The Toronto Maple Leafs travelled to Columbus on Tuesday night, the second night of back to back games after suffering a tough 5-2 loss over the last place Montreal Canadiens, to take on the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
It was a scoreless game midway through the first with a couple good chances at either end but it was a giveaway in the Jackets zone that saw Mitch Marner take the puck and throw a near behind the back pass to Michael Bunting waiting in the crease to bang home his 17th of the season, which is now tied for the lead in rookie goals with Tanner Jeannot from the Preds.
Jack Campbell was back in the Leafs net and had to be sharp in the first period, making some timely saves but in the second period it was the Leafs who were caught handling the puck a little to carelessly when Marner had the puck stripped from him, and with Morgan Rielly pinching in from the blueline it left plenty of space behind them.
Zach Werenski sprung Boone Jenner and Patrik Laine on an odd-man rush and Laine’s lethal wrist shot beat Campbell on the glove side to get the home team on the board.
The 1-1 tie didn’t last very long as near the end of the second period as David Kampf worked his way near the side of the Jackets net and he sprung another behind the back pass in front of Columbus’ net where, with some lax defending, the puck found Auston Matthews in front giving Number 34 his 34th goal of the year.
William Nylander took a holding call nearly 40 seconds into the third period where Adam Boqvist channeled his inner Morgan Rielly against the Pens last week and took the puck for a trip coast to coast where he then beat Campbell to tie the game at two.
Toronto made its first splash in the trade market on Saturday when it was announced that they had acquired big Russian defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin and former Sens and Jackets forward Ryan Dzingal from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Nick Ritchie and a pick.
While Dzingal needed to be put on waivers, where he was claimed by the San Jose Sharks, Lyubushkin wasn’t eligible to play Saturday against the Habs until his paperwork was cleared.
He was thrown right into the fire as he was caught as the lone defensemen back on the Laine’s tying goal in the second, and it didn’t get much better for him in the third.
Lyubushkin had trouble controlling a bouncing puck at the blueline which in turn helped spring Brendan Gaunce on a breakaway, where he capitalized firing the puck through Campbell’s five hole for his third goal of the season.
Toronto’s pressure was mounting up for the rest of the third period after they went down and with Sheldon Keefe pulling Campbell for the extra skater with a little under three minutes left, where the 38 year old Jason Spezza potted home his 10th goal of the season, tying his goal tally from last season as well as giving him his 14th season with double digit goals.
With his goal on the night Spezza needs 11 more points to reach 1000 career points. With his goal tonight he is on pace for a 33 point pace which would be his most productive season since 2016-2017.
Nationwide Arena was incensed as it appeared that Jason Spezza kicked the puck into the net, on replay it showed the puck bounce off Spezza’s skate and go in while he was trying to bat the puck into the net.
This feeling was short lived however as just 20 seconds into overtime Patrik Laine received the puck from a streaking Jakub Voracek, where he unleashed another cannon wrist shot past Campbell to give the Jackets a 4-3 win.
Columbus looks to make it four wins in a row when they head to Sunrise, Florida on Thursday to take on the Atlantic Division leading Panthers before they are set to play the Metro Division leading Hurricanes the following night in Raleigh.
Toronto heads home to snap a three game losing skid by taking on the Minnesota Wild on Thursday before they head back on the road for games in Detroit on Saturday and Washington on Monday.