Leafs return home to battle Blue Jackets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will play their first home game since before the Olympic break on Monday as they welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to Air Canada Centre.

The Leafs should be anticipating this return home as they have won seven in a row as the host and have not lost at ACC since Jan. 7.

Toronto has dropped a pair of games in overtime since coming back from the Olympic hiatus, including a 4-3 decision to the rival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

James van Riemsdyk scored his second goal of the game 5:28 into the third period and Phil Kessel followed just over two minutes later to put the Leafs in front, but Montreal tied the game with 9:08 to go in regulation before netting the winner on the power play with 1:32 left in overtime.

The Canadiens earned the power play when Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who had 26 saves, was whistled for delay of game after coming well out of his crease to cover up the puck.

"It was a fast-paced game, up and down the ice," said van Riemsdyk, who has four goals and three assists in his past four games. "I don't think we had the start we wanted but we battled back in the second period."

Kessel has scored in three straight games, giving him 33 goals on the campaign, and has logged four multi-point games in a row for the Leafs, who trail the Tampa Bay Lightning by a point for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Toronto's home win streak will be put to the test tonight by Columbus, which has won three in a row on the road over the Maple Leafs.

The Blue Jackets have won the first two of three meetings this season by an 11-2 margin and that includes a 6-0 win in Toronto on Nov. 25. Sergei Bobrovsky posted an 18-save shutout and Ryan Johansen scored twice.

Columbus snapped a three-game losing streak with Saturday's 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers, keyed by its special teams.

R.J. Umberger, Cam Atkinson and David Savard all netted power-play goals in the game's first 31 minutes, but the Blue Jackets looked to be going into the third period deadlocked at 3-3.

However, Artem Anisimov stripped the puck at the right boards and scored an unassisted short-handed goal with 10 seconds on the clock for the game-winner.

"Artey made a big individual play right there and that must have been disheartening to them," said Jackets coach Todd Richards.

Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert had empty-net scores and Bobrovsky ended with 17 saves. Defenseman Jack Johnson finished with three assists.

"The way the game was going both teams were sucking energy out of each other," said Richards. "I thought we did some good things, but some big miscues and they put it in our net."

Columbus is four points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division as it chases just the second postseason berth in club history.