The Toronto Maple Leafs won their second straight game in the new NHL season. This time the Canadian franchise has defeated Columbus Blue Jackets on the road with 4-1, indicating that they might already be in solid form.
The guests from up north were very convincing, and they didn’t allow the hosts to have the slightest hopes of winning this one. Even though Columbus had chances to score at some points of the match, it looked like they simply don’t have the solution for the compact and strong defense of the guests.
According to their head coach John Tortorella, Blue Jackets’ executing troubles were the main cause of this loss.
“I have to watch the video, but I thought we had some good minutes through the game. But we don’t score at key times, they do, and the game’s over.”
On the other side, Mitchell Marner was clinical, and with two goals and an assist, he was the best player of the Maple Leafs. The 22-year old center from Markham, Ontario, explained after the game, that he put a lot of effort into improving his game during the summer.
“That’s what I worked a lot on this summer, getting the puck in my hands and getting the shot off quicker, not holding onto it and making pretty plays,” Marner said. “Just try getting it to the net.”
He struck for the first time after 12:04 minutes of the opening sequence when his team had a powerplay situation on the ice. The teams scored once each in the second period, with Cody Ceci netting for the Maple Leafs and Cam Atkinson for the hosts.
Atkinson tied the NHL record for the longest streak of opening games in which one player scored. This was his 6th one to do such a thing. Only Mud Bruneteau of the Detroit Red Wings (1940-45) and Yvan Cournoyer of the Montreal Canadiens (1973-78), have the same record.
Marner made it 3-1 early on in the third, preventing anything unusual which might endanger his team’s lead, and until the end of the game, he posted one assist. It was to the problematic Auston Matthews who scored his third goal in the past two matches. His issues with the law might be forgotten soon if he keeps on filling the headlines with solid performances like the one from Friday’s game.
We need to mention Morgan Riley, who had three assists and was extremely important for Toronto. Goalie Frederik Andersen had 28 saves for the guests, while on the other side, Joonas Korpisalo posted 25 saves for the Blue Jackets.
After starting with a defeat, Columbus will have a chance to bounce back already tonight. They are heading for Pittsburgh to face the Penguins and after that host Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs have two very interesting games coming up. At first, they play against the Montreal Canadians tonight, and following that wait for the reigning NHL champions, the St. Louis Blues this Monday.
It will be exciting to see the real strength of the Maple Leafs against the No.1 team in the league.