COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Columbus Blue Jackets played with a man advantage over Toronto for nearly seven minutes in the third period last night—thanks to a quirky mistake by the Maples Leafs.
But the Blue Jackets couldn't use it to their advantage.
Toronto snuffed out the five-minute power play, then remained a man down for nearly two more minutes because no one had gone to the box to serve the time.
The penalty-kill seemed to flatten the Blue Jackets and the Leafs cruised to a 5-2 victory.
“I think that took a lot of momentum away from them,” said Nazem Kadri, who had a goal and an assist.
“They started the second and third periods off pretty well, and that [penalty kill] just came up huge for us.”
William Nylander and Leo Komarov had a goal and an assist each while Auston Matthews and Nikita Zaitsev also tallied for Toronto.
Frederik Andersen had 32 saves as the Leafs stayed in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Atlantic Division.
David Savard and Brandon Saad replied for Columbus, which lost for the first time in its last five games.
Back-up goalie Joonas Korpisalo stopped 27 shots.
The Blue Jackets stayed in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind leader Washington and one behind Pittsburgh.
They play the Capitals in Washington tonight.
The Blue Jackets fought back from a 2-0 first-period deficit to tie the game in the second, but were held scoreless in the final period—despite the strange extended power-play situation.
“There's no excuse," Saad said. ”We've got to create more chances, more traffic.
“For us, that's kind of a key moment in the game where even if we don't score a goal, we have to create some momentum off that, and they just outworked us.”
The hard-hitting game was punctuated by Toronto's Roman Polak, who unloaded a hit that plastered Oliver Bjorkstrand's face into the glass—earning the big defenceman a five-minute major penalty.
Bjorkstrand crumpled to the ice and looked as if he may have been unconscious briefly before being helped off.
There was no immediate word on how seriously he was injured.
But Polak left the ice and no one else went to the box for penalty, so Toronto had to keep playing a man down until the next stoppage of play.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Anaheim edged Edmonton 4-3 and the N.Y. Islanders nipped the N.Y. Rangers 3-2.