Three Things: Defensive Clinic, Tone Setting, and Korpisalo's Effort Lead The Way For Blue Jackets in Game 1 Win

By Rob Mixer on August 2, 2020 at 11:21 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stretches between stoppages in play.

If you're John Tortorella, it's hard to imagine a more picture-perfect start to this Stanley Cup Qualifiers series.

And if you felt like this was a movie you'd seen before, well, it was. The Blue Jackets played their tight, together, stingy game and made it hell for the Maple Leafs' stars to generate any offense. This 2-0 win is a fantastic opening statement for a Columbus team that needs its best game to win, and they got it tonight.

Here are three things from a textbook effort in Game 1.

Team First

You'll hear this a lot about the Blue Jackets and how they need to play – particularly against a high-octane offensive team like the Maple Leafs. It's got to be a five-man unit with everyone understanding and aware of their jobs on every shift. A remarkable amount of detail is required to pull it off, but hey, the Blue Jackets do have some experience.

Remember last spring?

Columbus took a 1-0 lead early in the third period after Cam Atkinson snuck a wrist shot through Frederik Andersen, but what happened in the ensuing minutes was impressive. It was shades of Tampa Bay, one might say, using sticks and bodies to disrupt rushes and not give anything away for free.

The Blue Jackets held the Maple Leafs without a shot on goal for the final six-plus minutes of regulation. Full credit to Columbus for its commitment to the plan and executing. As Atkinson said post-game, it's not a fun brand of hockey to watch at times, but it's sweeter when you win.

Playoff Korpi

First playoff start.

First playoff shutout (for him). First playoff shutout (in franchise history).

Sergei Bobrovsky, who had historic struggles in the postseason, held the No. 1 chair for years in Columbus while Korpisalo sat patiently and waited his turn. It didn't take the understudy long to assume the throne. Korpisalo made 28 saves to record his first postseason shutout in his first postseason appearance.

None was better than this 10-bell beauty on Auston Matthews late in the second period. Tortorella and the players said this was a big moment in the game.

He was the backbone of a stellar defensive effort from the Blue Jackets, who now have control of this best-of-five series. 

Set The Tone

The Blue Jackets' defensive effort was outstanding. Their goaltending was solid. And if you're in that dressing room, you're feeling doubly good about winning despite not burying more of the chances they earned. Toronto committed some generous turnovers, but the Blue Jackets just couldn't capitalize.

Another silver lining: the No. 1 line of Pierre-Luc Dubois (who was a monster), Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexandre Texier combined for 10 shots and a handful of quality chances. They were due. 

Regardless, the Blue Jackets have the hammer now. Game 2 is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena.