Sat, 26 Sep 2020

Maple Leafs look to ignite offense vs. Blue Jackets

Field Level Media
04 Aug 2020, 08:40 GMT+10

The Columbus Blue Jackets played their trademark defensive game in the opener of the best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying series on Sunday night.

Now, it is up to the eighth-seeded Maple Leafs to do their thing on Tuesday in Game 2 against the ninth-seeded Blue Jackets in Toronto.

The Blue Jackets play with a structured defense, while the Maple Leafs' game is to score goals.

"Obviously, they did what they do best and what we were prepared for," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of the 2-0 loss on Sunday. "We knew it was going to be difficult. Now we go out on the ice and you feel it. ... I thought we did have some chances to get more than what we got on the scoreboard, but it didn't fall in for us, it fell in for them."

In shutting down the Maple Leafs on Sunday, the Blue Jackets also had a 35-28 advantage in shots on goal.

Cam Atkinson scored the game-winner at 1:05 of the third period and Alexander Wennberg found the empty net to seal the win. Joonas Korpisalo turned aside all 28 shots he faced in his first postseason start.

Both Korpisalo and Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen made good saves. Most notably, Korpisalo made a superb glove save on a shot from the slot by Auston Matthews late in the second period.

"They're a good offensive team and it's certainly a point of emphasis, as far as how we play in our end zone," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "I thought we played in spurts through a lot of the game. Third period, especially when we have the lead, it just seems like there's more concentration on being in the right positions."

The Maple Leafs technically are considered the home team in the first two contests, giving them the last line change again Tuesday.

"It's a very tight game, it's a good hockey team," Keefe said. "It's two teams that were tight together in the standings, two teams that are very competitive. I thought we played a good enough game to win today, but obviously you can't win when you don't score."

This is the first NHL playoff experience as coach for Keefe, who replaced Mike Babcock in November.

Tortorella coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship in 2004. He also engineered a sweep in the first round last season of the Lightning, who were a heavy favorite after compiling the best regular-season record.

Not only did the disciplined Blue Jackets throttle Toronto's high-octane attack, they took only one penalty while having two power plays of their own.

"We didn't get anything from anyone today, we only generated one power play," Keefe said. "All those types of things make it harder than it needs to be, but we expected it to be hard, we expected it to be uncomfortable."

The Blue Jackets have won their first game of the playoffs on the road for three straight seasons, including 2018 against the Washington Capitals and last season against Tampa Bay.

"It's just a matter of us playing as a group and we did a good job of trying to not give them too many odd-man rushes," said defenseman David Savard, who led the Blue Jackets with five blocked shots and assisted on Atkinson's goal.

"We've just got to play as a team, and if we keep playing like this we'll give ourselves a chance to win every night."

--Field Level Media

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