Blue Jackets, Maple Leafs could be destined for shootout
TORONTO -- Going by recent trends, the possibility of a shootout at the Air Canada Centre looms when the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets play there Monday night.
Both teams are coming into the game off shootout wins.
The Maple Leafs have won their past two games in shootouts, including a 3-2 verdict over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. They also beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday.
The Blue Jackets defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout on Sunday. Josh Anderson got the decisive goal in the eighth round.
The Blue Jackets, however, did not require a shootout on Dec. 20 in Columbus when they beat the Maple Leafs 4-2.
Both teams will take wins any way they can find them lately.
The Maple Leafs (25-16-2) are 5-4-1 in their past 10 games despite two wins in a row as they play the fourth game of a six-game homestand.
The Blue Jackets (24-16-3) are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games despite winning two of their past three.
The Blue Jackets failed to close the deal against the Panthers in regulation when Aleksander Barkov tied the score for Florida at 18:26 of the third.
Both goaltenders were busy, with Sergei Bobrovsky making 42 saves for Columbus and James Reimer stopping 46 shots for Florida.
There were positives for the Blue Jackets besides the two points they earned, including Nick Foligno ending a 10-game stretch without a goal when he scored in the first period.
Brandon Dubinsky (fractured orbital bone), Cam Atkinson (foot) and Alexander Wennberg (back) are injured and Columbus has been struggling to score at times, particularly on the power play.
"The first period we played with energy," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "The second period we were treading water a bit. In the third, I thought we played really well but couldn't get that third goal."
Columbus was a little unlucky on the tying goal with the puck deflecting off Foligno's skate to Barkov.
"Sometimes it happens," Bobrovsky said. "The most important thing is we get the two points. Those bounces, we can't control that. It could happen in the first period. It happened in the third."
The Blue Jackets are last in the league in scoring on the power play, but center Pierre-Luc Dubois notched a goal with a man advantage in the second period Sunday.
"You can see when our power play is working what it can do for us," Dubois said. "If you get two or three five-on-five goals, like we usually do, then you add one or two on the power play, we're a really dangerous team.
"Our power play hasn't been working for us this year, but the past couple of games we're getting closer and closer."
Toronto center Tyler Bozak has scored the clinching goal in both Maple Leafs' shootout wins last week.
"I think shootouts have always been pretty comfortable and I've done pretty well in them, so it's fun to go in those, especially when you've got a chance to win it for the guys," Bozak said after the game on Saturday.
Bozak also scored the tying goal in the third period Saturday to bring the Maple Leafs back from a 2-0 disadvantage.
"I thought we had a pretty bad first half of the game," Bozak said. "I thought they kind of took it to us. They played pretty well, then we kind of turned it on a bit.
"I think our power play probably should have had a couple of goals, which was unfortunate, but it's nice to be able to come back like that and get the two points. There's going to be a lot of close games here the rest of the way."
Toronto defenseman Travis Dermott made his NHL debut Saturday and picked up an assist on the tying goal.
"I thought he was confident, moved the puck, skated good," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "He looks like he's got good hockey sense. It looked like the situation didn't intimidate him at all.
"We're just going to watch him like all guys. Everyone comes to the National Hockey League and their first game, everything is great. Then the next game and the next game, over a period of time, we'll see if he's a regular NHL player. If he can help us, he'll play."
Updated January 7, 2018