Blue Jackets at Maple Leafs
First place in the Atlantic Division - and the entire NHL - still is on the minds of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who look to complete a perfect five-game homestand when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. Toronto, which has won eight of nine overall, is third in the division but trails first-place Tampa Bay - which also leads the league - by just six points.
The Maple Leafs closed the gap a bit on Monday as James van Riemsdyk scored at 4:37 of the third period to snap a tie and give them a 4-3 victory after they had squandered a three-goal lead. Columbus appears to be on the upswing as it has posted back-to-back wins following a five-game slide (0-4-1) that concluded with three straight divisional losses. Both of the triumphs also came against Metropolitan rivals, including Tuesday's 4-1 road victory over the New York Islanders. Pierre-Luc Dubois extended his goal-scoring streak to a career-high three games and added an assist as the Blue Jackets remained one point behind Carolina for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, FS Ohio (Columbus), Sportsnet, TVA (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (29-23-4): Oliver Bjorkstrand, a 22-year-old Danish right wing, has recorded a tally and an assist in two straight games to become the sixth member of the team to reach double digits in goals this season. Columbus, which has posted back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 7-8 and consecutive victories in regulation for the first time since Dec. 8-9, is seeking its first three-game streak since a six-game run from Nov. 11-24. The Blue Jackets registered 26 shots in the first period on Tuesday, matching the franchise record for most in a session that it set on Feb. 3 - also on the road against the Islanders.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (34-19-5): William Nylander has recorded two goals and an assist twice in his last four contests, a span during which he has collected seven points. The 21-year-old ranks second on the team in scoring (45 points) after registering five tallies and eight assists over his last 10 games. Auston Matthews tops Toronto with 47 points and also has notched seven in the last four contests, including a pair of three-point performances.
1. Maple Leafs D Jake Gardiner has registered five points over his last four games and is two away from 200 for his career.
2. Columbus LW Artemi Panarin notched his team-leading 46th point Tuesday with an assist and needs three more to reach 200 in the NHL.
3. Van Riemsdyk leads Toronto with eight power-play goals - one shy of matching his career high.