Leafs draw even

TORONTO 3 COLUM­BUS 0 (Se­ries tied 1-1)

Times Colonist - - Business - JOSHUA CLIP­PER­TON

TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs were two minutes from a re­sound­ing, feel-good vic­tory.

They had fi­nally solved Colum­bus goalie Joonas Kor­pisalo and were on the way to evening the teams’ qual­i­fy­ing round se­ries at one game apiece.

Then, while killing a penalty late in Tues­day’s third pe­riod, de­fence­man Jake Muzzin took a cross­check from Pierre-Luc Dubois be­fore stum­bling and jam­ming his head into the leg of Blue Jack­ets winger Oliver Bjork­strand.

When the bruis­ing blue-liner tried to get up, he couldn’t. A stretcher was even­tu­ally wheeled onto the ice in­side a fan-less, deathly quiet Sco­tia­bank Arena as play­ers from both teams looked on.

The Leafs would seal a 3-0 vic­tory over Colum­bus, but their thoughts were else­where at the fi­nal buzzer.

“What he brings to our team is im­mea­sur­able,” Toronto cap­tain John Tavares, who scored the game’s second goal, said of Muzzin. “Certainly tough to see, es­pe­cially just how much we love that guy.”

The Leafs tweeted 31-year-old was trans­ported to hos­pi­tal, adding he was alert and able to move his limbs.

“We’re all pray­ing for him,” Toronto winger Mitch Marner said. “There’s a lot big­ger things than hockey.”

As for the game, Aus­ton Matthews opened the scor­ing for the Leafs, finding a crack in Kor­pisalo on Toronto’s 56th shot of the se­ries after the 26-year-old net­min­der mak­ing his post-season de­but recorded a 2-0 shutout in Sun­day’s opener.

Fred­erik An­der­sen made 20 saves to record his first post-season shutout with Toronto, the eighth seed in the Eastern Con­fer­ence as part of the NHL’s 24-team restart to its pan­demic-de­layed cam­paign. Mor­gan Rielly added an empty net­ter with 42.6 sec­onds left as the Leafs dom­i­nated from start to fin­ish.

“We forechecke­d re­ally hard,” Toronto head coach Shel­don Keefe said. “Our guys brought it to another level from a com­pet­i­tive stand­point.”

Kor­pisalo, who made 28 saves in Game 1, stopped 36 shots for No. 9 Colum­bus, which will look to re­bound in Thurs­day’s Game 3.

“Toronto played a re­ally good game,” said al­ways-fiery Blue Jack­ets head coach John Tor­torella. “We sucked.”

With the Leafs com­ing in waves, Matthews deftly redi­rected a Zach Hyman pass off the rush beyond Kor­pisalo’s blocker on Toronto’s 28th shot with ex­actly four minutes left in the second — a goal that would have blown the roof off the build­ing in a nor­mal post-season en­counter.

In­stead, the play­ers on the ice and bench made all the noise in­side their home rink, which is play­ing host to the East teams as part of the Toronto hub be­cause of COVID-19. The goal se­quence was one of the few where Blue Jack­ets de­fence­man Seth Jones wasn’t out against Matthews, and the Leafs’ star centre made them pay.

“It’s tight out there and goals are hard to come by,” Matthew said. “It was nice to get that one.”

Be­fore that break­through, how­ever, it looked like Toronto might never solve Kor­pisalo, who was lights out be­hind a stingy de­fen­sive struc­ture that worked to per­fec­tion against the high-fly­ing Leafs less than 48 hours ear­lier.

“Those thoughts can creep in,” Tavares said. “But when we’re play­ing like that, we have so much be­lief in each other, and with the type of team we have, that even­tu­ally it’s go­ing to pay off.”

Flames 6, Jets 2

ED­MON­TON — Cal­gary scored a trio of power-play goals on Tues­day en route to a 6-2 win over the Win­nipeg Jets and a 2-1 lead in their qual­i­fy­ing se­ries.

Sean Mon­a­han led Cal­gary’s at­tack with a goal and two as­sists. Elias Lind­holm and Mikael Back­lund each scored and had an as­sist.

Matthew Tkachuk and Mi­lan Lu­cic also scored, and Johnny Gaudreau pro­duced an emp­tynet­ter to go along with a helper. An­drew Man­gia­pane had a pair of as­sists.

Cal­gary starter Cam Tal­bot made 33 saves for the win. Win­nipeg coun­ter­part Con­nor Helle­buyck stopped 26 in the loss.

Niko­laj Eh­lers and An­drew Copp scored for the Jets.

Game 4 is Thurs­day night.

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