They were supposed to be mentally finished.
After a late meltdown and three consecutive 6-on-5 goals Friday by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who pulled off a shocking 4-3 overtime win, the Blue Jackets were supposed to crumble Sunday night at Scotiabank Arena.
It was Game 5 in a five-game series, winner-take-all and loser having its bubble popped in the final game of the qualifying round hosted inside the Toronto quarantine “bubble.”
Somebody forgot to tell the Blue Jackets what was supposed to happen, though. Rather than folding under the pressure of a high-stakes game, they rode another outstanding performance from goalie Joonas Korpisalo and took care of the business they failed to complete two days earlier.
The Blue Jackets, razzed by the Toronto media for their “boring” defensive style all series long, defeated the high-octane Maple Leafs 3-0 to keep their postseason alive.
Frederik Andersen made 19 saves for the Maple Leafs, who didn’t have any 6-on-5 rabbits to pull out of a hat at the end. In fact, Nick Foligno finally got an empty-net goal the Jackets desperately needed in Game 4, which would’ve ended this series a game earlier.
They’ll gladly take the series win this way instead.
The first period looked a lot like the first four games of the series, as the Maple Leafs controlled the puck in the Columbus zone for long stretches and the Blue Jackets somehow wound up ahead.
Werenski scored at 6:29 to open the scoring with his first goal in the series, giving the Columbus a 1-0 lead in a game he was still questionable to play Saturday.
After being tripped by Mitch Marner midway through the third period of Game 4 on Friday, Werenski appeared to sustain an upper-body injury that forced him to miss the remainder of that contest – including three straight Toronto 6-on-5 goals plus 13:10 of overtime.
A report by TSN’s Darren Dreger said Werenski was taken to get an MRI on Saturday outside the quarantine “bubble” in Toronto, but was allowed to return without having to serve a four-day quarantine because the procedure was done at a facility the NHL had secured.
Whatever the issue might be, it didn’t seem to bother the Jackets’ defenseman. He was credited for three hits in the first period and scored the goal with a quick wrist shot through traffic from the blue line. The puck appeared to hit Toronto defenseman Tyson Barrie in the low slot and deflect into the net.
The second period was more of the same, minus the goal. Neither team scored in those 20 minutes, but both had good chances.
The Blue Jackets’ best opportunities belonged to Oliver Bjorkstrand, who had a couple good shots turned away by Andersen, and Liam Foudy – who whiffed on a cross-ice pass during a 2-on-1 with Alexandre Texier while skating right at a wide opening in the Toronto net.
John Tavares had the Leafs’ best scoring chances, after squandering a golden opportunity to tie it 1-1 in the first by sending the puck off the right post rather than into a huge open gap on the back side of the play.
In the second, Korpisalo made three strong saves from about 15 feet out against the Maple Leafs’ captain, who also fired wide on a power play while looking at a large open area to shoot.
Korpisalo, meanwhile, carried his strong play into the third.
Despite the Maple Leafs dominating puck possession and outshooting Columbus 9-1 in the first 9:40 of the period, the Jacket’s netminder made every save and preserved the 1-0 lead.
That included a stop off an uncontested shot from the near left wing by defenseman Morgan Rielly with 10:19 left – paving the way for Foudy’s goal to make it 2-0 just 1:20 later.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: NHL playoffs: Blue Jackets oust Maple Leafs with Game 5 shutout