Blue Jackets’ Korpisalo Picks Perfect Moment For Hottest Career

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TORONTO – We’re starting to think that Joonas Korpisalo might be the only thing that can save us from 2020.

The stoic Finn has certainly been instrumental in getting the Columbus Blue Jackets to where they are in this bubble playoff, tied 1-1 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and seemingly getting stronger with every test of. strong minded.

It is from this material that the legends are made.

Korpisalo, at 26 and with more than 180 professional games under his belt, clocked the hottest run of his NHL career with the first six career starts he has ever made in the Stanley Cup Playoffs .

“It’s just great to have him at the net,” said teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand after Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Lightning.

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As committed and tough as Columbus plays defensively, they need help. Korpisalo dismissed 36 shots in Game 2 against Tampa, bringing his tally to 154 in just the last three outings.

And no, it’s not a typo.

His recent job includes a shutout to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs – one of two he posted in that qualifying series – and a record-breaking 85-save masterpiece in Tuesday’s five-time overtime loss. against Tampa.

“You’re just trying to save by saving. Don’t think too much and just think about it, ”Korpisalo said as an explanation of how he kept his focus in the eighth period.

Losing in this manner could easily break the minds of some players and teams, especially when Tampa took a lead off a Nikita Kucherov goal less than six minutes into Game 2. But Korpisalo didn’t let another puck on. overtake, giving teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois time to find his legs and the opportunity to prepare Ryan Murray and Bjorkstrand for big goals, before Alexander Wennberg froze with a glorious individual effort in the third period.

Korpisalo has a .962 save percentage so far to show for this playoffs and it would be unreasonable to expect him to continue to allow less than two goals per game with so much work.

But durability is a concern for another day.

The Blue Jackets are 22nd out of 24 teams with an expected 40.51 even-matched goal percentage on this return to play and yet they have managed to beat their opponents 13-7 in this state of play.

No wonder the Leafs have already reviewed end-of-season media availability and the Lightning must answer questions about why this series won’t be a repeat of last year.

Korpisalo backed Sergei Bobrovsky during the Tampa sweep in April 2019 and got the nod from John Tortorella to start this postseason largely out of loyalty. The Blue Jackets coach wanted to reward the work he did over four seasons as a substitute and ended up going to Elvis Merzlikins for a game and a half in the Toronto series, only to see Merzlikins get injured.

Now he needs Korpisalo. The Blue Jackets recently transported Veini Vehvilainen to Toronto to get him into the NHL bubble, observe quarantine and give them a third goalie option behind Matiss Kivlenieks

But they only have six games of NHL experience between them.

Fortunately, Korpisalo was up to the task for a Jackets team that has already played 28 periods of hockey in their seven playoff games.

“We all know in the locker room that he’s one of the best goalies in the NHL and he’s feeling really good right now,” Dubois said. “Every time we make a little mistake he’s there to stop the puck and give us confidence to try plays and that’s all you can ask of a goalie.

“It’s been, since the first game, since he started, he’s been amazing for us.

Do you need additional proof?

With Thursday’s performance, Korpisalo became the first goaltender in NHL history with 121 saves in two games of a playoff series, surpassing Curtis Joseph’s 118 for St. Louis against Toronto in 1993.



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