TORONTO – Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t just disappointed that Toronto lost on Monday, he was disappointed in the way his team lost.
The Maple Leafs were shelled 6-0 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 24 hours after they were given the day off as a reward for their 2-1 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
“We didn’t have energy off a day off yesterday,” said Carlyle. “It just seemed like we lacked the necessary pace that was required to compete in the game.
Goaltender James Reimer allowed six goals on 21 shots as the Blue Jackets (9-12-3) concluded a five-game road trip with their third win (3-2-0).
Reimer’s loss for Toronto (14-9-1) comes two nights after he had a career-high 49-save performance against Washington.
Cam Atkinson and R.J. Umberger scored for Columbus in a 20 second span in the first period. Then Jack Skille and Ryan Murray added goals 3:15 apart in the second period. Ryan Johansen scored twice in the third as the Blue Jackets picked up their second win over the Leafs in a month.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 18 saves for his fifth career shutout.
“We limited their opportunities. I thought our forwards did a good job of getting in the shooting lanes and forcing their shots wide,” said Columbus head coach Todd Richards. “Our defence really competed in front of our net, boxing out, where Bob could see the puck and we were opportunistic in the offensive zone.”
Atkinson opened the scoring at 10:18 of the first period, knocking a Matt Calvert pass out of mid-air and putting it past Reimer for his sixth of the season.
Twenty seconds later, Umberger picked up his sixth of the season putting home the rebound after Reimer made the initial save off Ryan Murray’s wrap around attempt.
James van Riemsdyk had Toronto’s best chance of the first period, one-timing a Phil Kessel feed through Bobrovsky’s pads, but the puck trickled just wide of the Columbus net.
The Leafs troubles continued in the second as Mark Letestu capitalized on a Mark Fraser turnover at the Columbus blue-line. Letestu fed Skille on a 2-on-1 break for his first of the season and first as a member of the Jackets at 3:07 of the period.
Skille drew a hooking penalty 2:13 later.
On the ensuing Columbus power play, Murray put a Johansen feed past Reimer. Monday was Murray’s first career multi-point game.
“We made sure we all worked together as a five-man unit every shift and stuck to a system,” said Skille. “We made sure we played simple road hockey. That was the key tonight.”
The Blue Jackets scored twice on their first four shots of the second period prompting the ACC crowd to jeer Reimer following a routine save.
Johansen finished a 2-on-1 feed from Nick Foligno at 9:05 of the third making it 5-0. Johansen then added his team-leading eighth of the season at 11:25 of the third ending Reimer’s night early. Jonathan Bernier made one save in relief.
“The first two were kind of bad bounces or weird plays and then the rest were good plays, good shots,” said Reimer. “I don’t really have much to say. Don’t really have much to offer. It just wasn’t my night tonight.
“It’s obviously disappointing what happened and frustrating.”
Reimer entered Monday with a 6-2-0 record and a league-best .947 save percentage and a 2.10 goals-against average.
Since allowing four goals to Ottawa and getting pulled in his second game of the season Oct. 5, Reimer had stopped 156 of 161 shots at home for a .969 save percentage. Reimer was 4-0-0 in five starts during that span.
Monday was Reimer’s first career start and loss against Columbus.
“I think that was par with the rest of our group,” said Carlyle of Reimer’s play. “With the hockey club the way we played tonight, if our performance was to be labelled tonight, it was a team effort. It was nowhere near what it needed to be.”
At 10:50 of the third Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was assessed a minor penalty for illegal contact to the head as he caught Columbus forward Artem Anisimov with an open-ice hit. Anisimov left the game immediately and did not return.
“The refs have a tough job to do, the game’s moving very quickly and I hit him shoulder-to-shoulder,” said Phaneuf of the play. “(The ref) just said from his angle that he saw contact, but that’s all I’m going to say on that. I felt that it was a clean hit. Shoulder to shoulder.”
Added Carlyle “From where I was standing, it looked like he went chest to chest. Now did he make contact with his head? You tell me. I better not say what I want to say.”
Adding to the Leafs poor showing, forward Joffrey Lupul left the game at the end of the second period with what Carlyle called a sore groin and did not return for the third.
Tyler Bozak made his return to the Leafs line-up Monday after missing 12 games with a hamstring injury. Bozak finished with a minus-2 rating.
Notes: With the return of Bozak, Peter Holland was a healthy scratch Monday joining fellow centre, Trevor Smith. Leafs defenceman Paul Ranger was the odd man out on the blue-line. Columbus used an emergency recall to call-up Sean Collins from their AHL affiliate in Springfield Monday, but flight issues caused the team to cancel the transaction mid-afternoon. Blue Jackets defenceman Dalton Prout was activated from injury reserve and returned to the lineup after missing five games with a back injury. The Blue Jackets placed Brandon Dubinsky (foot) on injury reserve retroactive to Nov. 19.