Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

Leafs solve Korpisalo, but lose Muzzin as Toronto evens series with Columbus 1-1

TORONTO — The Maple Leafs sat 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/neck 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 looked on from both benches during a delay that lasted nearly 15 minutes.

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 the 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.”

After outshooting the Blue Jackets 15-6 in the first Tuesday, Toronto continued to press in the second. William Nylander couldn’t tuck his effort home at the side of the net on a power play with Korpisalo down-and-out before Tavares had two chances right in front, and another from the slot.

Leafs defenceman Justin Holl had a golden opportunity pinching down, but Korpisalo was there again as Columbus barely touched the puck in the middle period.

Andersen was solid in making 33 saves in Game 1, but disappointed by the one he missed — an innocent shot off the rush from Cam Atkinson that proved to be the difference before a late empty-netter.

The Toronto netminder didn’t have much to do Tuesday, but had to be sharp with the teams playing 4-on-4 after Matthews finally solved Korpisalo. Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski had a chance off the rush and Atkinson was there on the follow.

“What happens in their end is useless to think about,” said Andersen, who had two post-season shutouts when he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks. ”I just focus on what I can do.”

Columbus, which stunned the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in a first-round sweep last spring before losing stars Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene and Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency, tried to get going early in the third. But with Werenski caught down low in the offensive zone, Tavares, who had a rough Game 1, was sprung free on a break and beat Korpisalo under the blocker at 4:56.

Korpisalo kept his team within striking distance by stopping Matthews on a 2-on-1 break midway through the period, but Toronto coasted from there, save for Muzzin’s scary injury, to even the series 1-1.

The Leafs were once again the “home” team inside a frigid Scotiabank Arena on a muggy August afternoon, but with a 4 p.m. ET start — the second of three games at the venue Tuesday — they set up shop in the reconfigured media centre and not their usual locker room. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, were in the Toronto Raptors’ digs down the hall.

Keefe tweaked his top-6 forward group, with Marner joining Matthews and Hyman, while Nylander moved to the wing on the second line with Tavares and Ilya Mikheyev.

Toronto started on its toes, with bruising winger Kyle Clifford steamrolling Dean Kukan early in the first — a hit that would have had the home crowd frothing at the mouth in normal times.

“We came out with a strong push,” Matthews said. “Just a full effort throughout the lineup.”

The Leafs will be looking for more of the same — likely without Muzzin — on Thursday night.

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

___

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2020

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

NHL

Just Posted

(File photo from The Canadian Press)
Red Deer down to 66 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer has lowest number of active cases since last November

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo again denied parole

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

A pair of Alberta residents were arrested after police responded to a report of a woman who had allegedly been assaulted and confined against her will on June 20, 2021. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP arrest 2 Albertans suspected in alleged assault, unlawful confinement

Firearms, stolen items seized including NHL hockey cards believed to be worth thousands

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

Most Read