After putting together a dominating performance in Game 2, the Maple Leafs squandered a 3-0 lead and lost in overtime to the Blue Jackets in Game 3 of their qualifying round series. They’ll have to turn the page quickly as less than 24 hours later, it’s Game 4.
“Just erase it,” Leafs forward Mitch Marner said following the loss. “We’re a team that’s been bouncing back all year from things that didn’t go our way. The boys showed up the next game, played our hearts out. So, we’ve got to get refocused, get ready.”
Elvis Merzlikins, who replaced Joonas Korpisalo in Columbus’ net after the Leafs’ trio of goals, will get the start in Game 4; he stopped all 21 shots he faced in Game 3. At the other end will be Frederik Andersen, who has looked sharp despite trailing in the series. He has turned away 39 of 43 shots.
At his morning availability, Toronto bench boss Sheldon Keefe hinted there may be some lineup changes for his squad but wouldn’t divulge them. He was none too pleased after the loss Thursday night.
“I feel like the game just got away from us right from the start,” he said matter-of-factly. “I didn’t like our game in the first period. I didn’t like our game at 1-0. I didn’t like our game at 2-0, 3-0. We just got what we deserved today.
“I thought we reverted back to a lot of really bad habits. We didn’t have any real purpose or plan to our game today. We were just making it up as we go along. We get what we deserved.”
Friday’s action thus far has not favored the teams facing elimination: The Islanders, Coyotes and Canadiens closed out their series and sent the Panthers, Predators and Penguins, respectively, out of the NHL bubble.
Sporting News has all the action as the Maple Leafs try to avoid elimination.
Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets live score, updates, highlights
(All times Eastern)
8:26 p.m. — Leafs getting some pressure. Pierre Engvall tries to send the point shot in but it trickles towards the post and Elvis jumps on the puck.
8:19 p.m. — Nick Robertson with a chance off a pass from John Tavares. The 18-year-old, who scored his first NHL goal in Game 3, is skating on a line with Tavares and Nylander. Big sliding pad save by Elvis.
8:15 p.m. — GOAL. Pierre-Luc Dubois blows past Justin Holl setting up a 2-on-1 and Cam Atkinson finishes. Blue Jackets lead 1-0.
8:11 p.m. — Not sure how to explain what just happened but I’ll give-it-a-go: Elvis and Seth Jones miscommunicate at the side of the net. Mitch Marner gets the puck but has to avoid Elvis’ loose stick in his feet. He comes around but Elvis still somehow makes the stop.
8:10 p.m. — Game on. Will Columbus close things out? Or, will the Leafs live to fight another day?
7:39 p.m. — All eyes are on warm-ups.
3:45 p.m. — Some tweaks to the Blue Jackets lineup.
12:56 p.m. — The Leafs coach has turned the page. Has his team?
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