Patrik Laine is back to doing Patrik Laine things.
After scoring the game-winning goal in Tuesday night's overtime thriller against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets winger has posted 12-8-20 in his past 10 games and is tied for second in the NHL in points over the past month.
We've written about how the Blue Jackets, who suddenly find themselves on an 8-2-0 heater, are remarkably strong in overtime. Laine's goal encapsulates so much of what has allowed this team to find success in the extra session. So here's a detailed breakdown of what really happened on the game-winning goal:
The Blue Jackets are one of the few teams in the NHL who sometimes deploy a center for the sole purpose of winning the opening faceoff in an overtime session. John Tortorella utilized Brandon Dubinsky in this role, and Brad Larsen has followed suit with Boone Jenner.
Jenner, who has won 53.66% of his draws this season, ranks a solid 49th in the NHL (minimum 50 faceoffs) in winning percentage. His counterpart, Auston Matthews, is 15th in the NHL at 57.4%. But Jenner won this draw back to Zach Werenski (0:44), and immediately went for a change. Shoutout to Jody Shelley for, in real-time, speculating this was the strategy.
Onto the ice stepped Jakub Voracek, arguably (definitely?) the Blue Jackets' most gifted playmaker. Voracek picks up speed with crossovers, coming behind the net for maximum effect. The winger skates up the left-wing wall, and gets all the way to his blue line before he has to even think about oncoming pressure. With a deceptive weight-shift to the outside of the ice, Maple Leafs' defenseman Morgan Reilly gives up the more dangerous inside ice, a fatal error. Perhaps he thought that he'd have help from Mitch Marner, but that never came.
At 1:06, Voracek uses that great fake to beat Reilly to the inside, and Matthews is forced to shade over to prevent the Blue Jackets forward from getting a clean breakaway. Matthews stick is now on the inside of the ice, and he has to lag away from Laine.
Credit to Laine for his timing on this play. As Voracek cuts to the middle, Laine presents his stick as an option but stays behind the puck carrier. Once Voracek draws Matthews' stick away from Laine, he is able to drop the puck to him with relative ease. This puts Matthews in a precarious spot. For starters, this is a mismatch. While Matthews is one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL, he's still not equipped to play a 1v1 as comfortably as his defensive counterparts may be. Second, his gap isn't ideal. If you freeze the video at 1:07, you'll see more than a stick length separates Matthews from Laine.
Lastly, Matthews gets caught between an attempted shot block and poke check. He sticks his right foot straight out as if to kick the puck away, and at that very moment, Laine utilizes his patented pull-drag and shoots it between Matthews' legs, using him as a screen.
The rest is history, as the shot cleanly beats goaltender Jack Campbell over the shoulder.