The Columbus Blue Jackets will find out Tuesday night if they can regain their ability to score goals on the road when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Blue Jackets scored only six goals in losing all four games on a road trip that ended Saturday, but they returned home Sunday to defeat the San Jose Sharks 6-4.
“When you’re not winning, you’re not scoring,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “It’s usually the first thing to go, and it’s hard to find. You hope this can kind of catapult us. Take a breath, relax with the puck. Start making some more plays.”
The Maple Leafs, who have no trouble scoring goals, will be out to regain their winning ways after losing two straight road games — 4-3 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and 6-3 to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
Toronto had matched a team record with seven straight road wins before the loss on Saturday, which also ended a five-game winning streak.
The Maple Leafs fell behind 3-0 and 5-1, respectively, in those games before making comebacks.
“We did have lack of attention to detail, lack of structure, lack of purpose in the things that have made us (successful),” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game Sunday. “It would be easy to go to the fatigue factor, but that’s not good enough. This is the reality of the schedule; you have to play back-to-back. So you just have to be that much more focused, that much more detailed.”
Auston Matthews kept a personal streak going on Sunday when he scored his 15th goal of the season. He has scored in six consecutive games for a total of eight goals. His career-best goal-scoring streak is eight games, Jan. 20-Feb. 8 of this year.
The game on Sunday became chippy after Toronto defenseman Rasmus Sandin was injured in a knee-on-knee collision with Jets defenseman Neal Pionk. There was no immediate update on the injury.
“I think it was just kind of a snowball effect,” Matthews said. “It just kind of spiraled out of control. It wasn’t really hockey in that third period, it was a bit of a gong show. I don’t really know how else to put it.”
Toronto played both weekend games without Mitch Marner, who suffered an undisclosed injury when he collided with Jake Muzzin during a drill in practice on Friday.
Jack Campbell, who was given a rest on Sunday, is expected to be back in goal for Toronto on Tuesday. Joseph Woll had the start on Sunday and made 35 saves.
The Blue Jackets also played back-to-back weekend games, losing 3-1 to the Washington Capitals on Saturday to lead to the possibility of a flat start on Sunday.
Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made some good saves in the first period for the Blue Jackets on Sunday and the period ended 1-1.
“We just wanted to try and find some traction,” Larsen said. “I thought Elvis made some big saves early in the game, especially the first period. They scored late, but at 1-1, it was like ‘OK, we got through it.’ “
Turnovers, a problem during the four-game losing streak, remained an issue on Sunday.
“We still had some issues with the puck, the turnover stuff,” Larsen said. “You can tell we’re just tense with it. We’ve gotta get rid of that.”
–Field Level Media