Just like the Columbus Blue Jackets love it.
The visitors seemed right at home as they took a 1-0 lead in the qualifying series over the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 2-0 win at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday night. Joonas Korpisalo stopped the 28 shots the Leafs managed to get through his strong defensive body and Cam Atkinson made sure he held on with the only goal Columbus needed.
Even though everything looks different in a Stanley Cup playoff tournament held after a 140-day hiatus, some things don’t change: The Blue Jackets won the top 20 NHL games of a goal before the coronavirus hit. ‘interrupt the season.
Even without fans in the building, there was a playoff intensity.
They came and went.
Glorious scoring chance for 18-year-old Nick Robertson in the first quarter of his NHL career, a breakaway for Pierre-Luc Dubois, a shot from the crossbar from Auston Matthews, a superb gaze from Zach Werenski also hitting iron.
You could clearly hear the sound of sticks hitting the boards, for example, and see the entire Columbus bench standing up to greet Korpisalo after glancing a dangerous gaze from Matthew from the crack.
This opened things up briefly at the end of the second period, with Seth Jones hitting a shot on the crossbar before Frederik Andersen deftly pushed with his right leg to get a left pad in front of what looked like a certain goal from Oliver Bjorkstrand.
Atkinson finally broke through at 1:05 of the third period with a perfectly placed shot that made Andersen shake his head in disbelief. He shot the run and squeezed it between the right pad and the Leafs goalie tackle.
The Blue Jackets shut things down from there. Toronto couldn’t find their way through a well-trained opponent who locked the neutral zone and protected the house.
Alexander Wennberg sealed it with an empty net.
The second match will take place on Tuesday afternoon.