Tavares scores a pair as Maple Leafs beat Blue Jackets 4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs' John Tavares, center, scores a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky, left, of Russia, as Seth Jones helps defend during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Mitch Stacy, The Associated Press
Published Friday, December 28, 2018 10:22PM EST
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Tavares scored two goals, Garret Sparks had 27 saves and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Friday night.
Mitch Marner had a goal and assisted on both Tavares' tallies, and Frederik Gauthier also scored to power the Maple Leafs to their fifth straight win, matching the longest streak of the season.
Nick Foligno and Artemi Panarin scored for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves. The Blue Jackets, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, saw their five-game winning streak snapped as they try to stay close to Washington at the top of the Metropolitan Division.
Toronto took advantage of a power play early in the game when Tavares deflected in a shot by Nazem Kadri from slot. Foligno tied it up shortly afterward when he snapped a shot between Sparks' pads from the right circle.
It would be all Maple Leafs from there.
Tavares got his second late in the first period with a shot from the left circle that went top shelf over Bobrovsky's glove and gave Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Marner gave Toronto a two-goal lead halfway through the second on a 4-on-4, when he raced ahead of Pierre Luc-Dubois on a rush, took a beautiful pass from Auston Matthews and tapped it past Bobrovsky.
Late in the third, Par Lindholm shovelled the puck out from the back of the net to set up a finish by Gauthier. Panarin got his 100th NHL goal with 1:28 left in the game.
Columbus came up empty on a pair of power plays and has scored just once in 33 attempts with a man-advantage in the last 11 games.
NOTES: Tavares' 26 goals lead the team. He has seven goals and four assists in his last six games. ... Toronto D Igor Ozhiganov returned after missing three games because of an illness. Justin Holl was a healthy scratch to make room. ... Toronto F Patrick Marleau played in his 1,613th NHL game, giving him sole possession of 10th place on the all-time list. ... With an assist on Foligno's goal, Seth Jones has 13 points in the last 15 games.
Toronto: Hosts New York Islanders on Saturday.
Columbus: Hosts Ottawa on Monday night.