Blue Jackets blank Maple Leafs for last NHL playoff spot

Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo
·3 min read
Joonas Korpisalo made 33 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked Toronto 3-0 Sunday to grab the final berth in the NHL playoffs
Joonas Korpisalo made 33 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked Toronto 3-0 Sunday to grab the final berth in the NHL playoffs

Finnish goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 33 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked Toronto 3-0 on Sunday to capture the final berth in the National Hockey League playoffs.

The Blue Jackets clinched the best-of-five qualifying series 3-2 to earn a spot against second seed Tampa Bay in the first round of the NHL playoffs that open Tuesday.

Columbus, which swept Tampa Bay in last year's opening round, squandered a 3-0 lead on Toronto in the final four minutes on Friday and lost in over-time to set up a do-or-die rematch.

"We didn't want to be remembered for a game like that getting away from us," Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "We have so much pride in that locker room, it's a band of brothers in there."

This time, Zach Werenski gave the Blue Jackets the lead 6:29 into the first period, Liam Foudy doubled the Columbus edge with 8:20 to play and Foligno scored into an empty net with 23 seconds remaining and Korpisalo held firm to the finish this time.

"For him to come in and pitch a shutout, he was a testament in there to keep us calm and a big reason why we got the win," Foligno said.

In the final seeding round games, Washington beat Boston 2-1 and Dallas edged defending champion St. Louis 2-1 in a shootout to win third seeds.

The Bruins, with an NHL best 44 wins when the season was halted March 12 by COVID-19, and the Blues were each atop their conferences at the break but must now settle for fourth seeds in the playoffs.

As a result, 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington will face the New York Islanders in the first round of the best-of-seven playoffs while Boston opens against Carolina in the Eastern Conference.

In the West, Dallas will open against Calgary while the Blues meet Vancouver in the first round.

The Islanders are coached by Barry Trotz, who guided the Capitals to the crown before leaving for New York and seeing former assistant Todd Reidden take over in Washington.

"It has been a couple years now so it has died down a little bit, but the importance of knowing some of the tendencies, some of the things that I have seen Barry Trotz's teams do and his coaching style and stuff, is stuff that I pay close attention to for a few years," Reirden said.

Washington's T.J. Oshie scored with 16 seconds remaining in the first period and Tom Wilson added another 2:49 into the third for the Capitals.

Jake DeBrusk scored with 9:30 remaining but the Bruins couldn't slide another puck past Washington goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 30 saves.

Dennis Gurianov of Dallas scored the only shootout goal to lift the Stars over St. Louis after Joe Pavelski had pulled the Blues level 1-1 with 31 seconds remaining in the third period.

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