March 03 2014 08:02PM
This team does know that the Olympic Break is over, right? I mean, the first line is still chugging away as if they never missed a beat (because they didn't) but the Leafs entered tonight having lost their first two games since returning. The opening twenty and final five minutes displayed a team that looked ready to snap the trend. The rest of the game displayed something that was worse than the opposite, which lead to a 2-1 loss.
After a couple of minutes of the two teams trying to figure each other out, the Leafs started peppering the net. A shot by Phil Kessel nearly gave Toronto the first goal of the game, but Ryan Johansen chopped it away just before it crossed the goal line. The Leafs kept pressuring, having one of their more dominant periods of the season, but Sergei Bobrovsky repeatedly shut the door and kept the game at zeros after twenty.
In the second, the Leafs completely reversed all the momentum they developed. After a couple of minutes spent by both teams in the Neutral Zone, the Blue Jackets had complete control, culminating in Dalton Prout wiring a slapshot past James Reimer to open the scoring and give him his second of his career. Three minutes later, Artem Anisimov fired a wrist shot into the back of the net to give Columbus an insurance tally. They just kept coming too, giving the Leafs little room to so much as breathe.
The Leafs had hope in the final minutes of the game, as Mason Raymond let go of a screamer to break Bobrovsky's shutout. Eventually pulling Reimer for an extra attacker, six Leafs fired at all cylinders in hopes of tying the game in the last seconds. A few Bobrovsky saves, missed nets, and blocked shots later, however, and the game was won by Columbus.
Why The Leafs Lost
You can't just let a game completely slip away like that. Toronto eventually got their act together and evened up the attempts in the final minutes, but desperation shots were at play once they got there. The team effort in the second period was the real life equivalent of a disconnected controller in an online game of NHL14, which is both inexcusable and the reason for both of Columbus' goals.
James Reimer was stellar, stopping 30 of 32 shots in his first start in over a month. There's a few ways this could go; it could be the performance he needs to get back in the lineup regularly, it could be what attracts a team to trade for him in the next couple of days, or it could be meaningless. But the point is, his stats were good and he made a lot of key saves, including shutting down a manic scramble in front of the net in the third period.
Also, since both teams wear some blue in their uniforms, lets give credit to the discipline showed tonight. Just three minor penalties and no majors over the sixty minutes, and they all came in the first 22.