A winning streak will come to an end tonight in Columbus. The Blue Jackets added to their streak with their fifth win in a row last night. They will get a well rested Maple Leafs team who have won four straight games entering tonight. This could possibly be a preview of a series in the playoffs and they’ve already played in a couple of good games this year.
The Jackets and Maple Leafs have split, with Toronto drawing first blood and then Columbus responding a few days later. Both teams protected their home ice, with the Blue Jackets getting another opportunity to win in Columbus on Friday evening. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net tonight after he was given the night off last night. Instead of starting him against an inferior offence, he will get the nod against the high-powered Maple Leafs this evening.
It looked like the Jackets were cooked last night with under 5 minutes to play. The Rangers scored to make it a 4-2 game, but after review they were offside and the goal didn’t count. You know what happened next. The Jackets took advantage of the gift to tie it up and go to overtime. It only took 30 seconds into OT for a final score of 4-3 for the Blue Jackets.
That extra point may come back to be pretty important later in the season. The win means that the Jackets keep pace with the Capitals who won last night as well. They’re just 2 points behind Washington in the Metropolitan. Meanwhile, the Leafs are 8 points behind Tampa, as the Lightning survived against the Flyers on Thursday. The Lightning blew a 5-2 lead in the 3rd, but won in overtime. 3-on-3 hockey between the Leafs and Lightning would make for a fun overtime. Head below for our free Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets pick.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pick
The Blue Jackets nearly lost out on two points last night without Bobrovsky in net. They are fortunate to get out of it with a win. There isn’t much time to rest, though, as the Maple Leafs will be in town for a Friday night date. The Leafs haven’t played since Sunday, so they have no excuse to look tired tonight.
Rust is certainly always a concern when teams have extra time off, though. Before going on their break, the Leafs were winners of four in a row. The offence was on fire, scoring at least 5 goals in each win. They averaged 5.75 goals per game, while an average of 2.5 goals per game.
The Blue Jackets have scored only 2.8 goals per game during their five-game stretch of wins. However, Bobrovsky and the defence stepped up to win four of the five, and then the offence picked up the slack in the absence of Bobrovsky at MSG. The Jackets should expect to see a much better offence this evening than they did in NYC.
Toronto haven’t had many issues scoring and have looked even better on the road this season. They’re 2nd in the league with 3.78 goals per game. That number goes up to 4 goals on the road. In their last ten games, they’ve recorded 4.2 goals per game. This should be another quality contest between the Leafs and Jackets. I’m inclined to believe that the Leafs’ playmakers are going to be too much to contain off a break. Their fresh legs should be the difference in a victory for the Leafs in Columbus on Friday.