Lee Stempniak and Nikolai Kulemin
added goals and Niklas Hagman, Mikhail Grabovski and Alexei
Ponikarovsky each had two assists for the Maple Leafs, who have picked
up points in seven of their past eight games (5-1-2) after a four-game
skid. It was the Leafs’ fourth road win in a row.
Kessel has four goals in his past
four games and 10 in the past 13. Joey MacDonald stopped 33 shots to
pick up his first win with Toronto.
Kristian Huselius, Jason Chimera and
Jan Hejda scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost seven of their
past eight games. Hejda also had an assist.
After Columbus pulled to 2-1 on
Huselius’ power-play goal 5 minutes into the second period, Toronto put
the game away. Just over a minute later, Hagman passed cross ice to
Grabovski who found Blake on another picture-perfect pass to make it
The Maple Leafs made it 4-1 shortly
after when Ponikarovsky took a pass and was held up by a defender but
kicked the puck to Kessel for a quick shot resulting in his second of
the night and 10th of the season.
That was it for Columbus goaltender Steve Mason, pulled in favor of Mathieu Garon after allowing four goals on 14 shots.
The change made no difference. With
the Blue Jackets again on the power play moments later, Anton Stralman
lost the puck at the boards in front of the Toronto bench. Kulemin
skated to the left circle and beat Garon stick-side on the first shot
the goalie faced to make it 5-1.
That cued an already small crowd to boo the home team.
Toronto scored three goals on five shots, including on consecutive shots to extend its lead.
The Maple Leafs also struck early.
From the backboards, Ponikarovsky flipped a no-look, behind-the-back
centering pass that went off defenseman Mike Commodore‘s stick to
Kessel’s. Kessel skated across the slot, pulling the puck back as Mason
tried to poke-check it, and slipped it into the net.
Toronto made it 2-0 on a similar
play. Stempniak intercepted defenseman Fedor Tyutin‘s pass and
backhanded the puck past a surprised Mason for his sixth goal.
Chimera hadn’t scored a point
in 13 games or had a goal in 14 before his third-period tally. … It
was the only meeting of the season between the teams and marked the
first time in more than three years that the Maple Leafs had come to
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