For the seventh time in 13 games and for the fifth consecutive match, the Columbus Blue Jackets faced a backup goalie Thursday. Once again, Columbus was unable capitalize.
Toronto Maple Leafs rookie goalie Ben Scrivens played in his first ever career NHL game and was solid in Toronto’s 4-1 win over Columbus.
Scrivens stopped 38 of 39 the Blue Jackets’ shots. Columbus’ only goal came from a jam-job from rookie Ryan Johansen midway through the second to cut Toronto’s 4-0 lead down by a goal.
“Anytime you play a first game, you want to leave a good impression,” Scrivens said.
Scrivens was composed and he controlled his rebounds nicely. Toronoto is 24th in the NHL in goals allowed. Thursday’s match was only the second time Toronto allowed less than two goals. The previous time was against Montreal on opening night.
Scrivens split time last season in the East Coast and American Hockey Leagues.
Columbus is 2-5 against backup goalies this season. Some wins are better than none. The Blue Jackets have yet to defeat a starting goalie in six tries.
“We’ve seen how many backups in a row now?” Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger said. “You’ve got to score on them. You have to find ways to score goals. We put up (39) shots and only get one goal. It is not good enough.”
Toronto did not announce a starting goalie before Thursday’s game as Leafs coach Ron Wilson did not want to start a goaltending controversy. Such a controversy in Toronto equals an Ohio State football quarterback controversy.
“Don’t say anything, we don’t need this circus bothering a young kid,” Wilson told Scrivens before the game.
Umberger said it didn’t matter that Columbus had no notice of Scrivens’ start.
“We thought the other guy was going to go,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. Arniel added that goaltending coach Ian Clark had seen Scrivens before and had some notes on the 25-year-old goalie.
Decision to keep Johansen pays off
On Tuesday, Johansen was notified by Blue Jackets’ general manager Scott Howson and Arniel that the squad planned on keeping him. Thursday’s game marked Johansen’s 10th with Columbus marking the beginning of his contract. Per the agreement between the NHL and Canadian Hockey League, Johansen will not return to the Portland Winterhawks.
Johansen has sparked Columbus’ offense by scoring the only two game-winning goals the squad has had. He also notched Columbus’ only goal in its 4-1 loss to Toronto Thursday.
“It is a great feeling. It is a pretty special moment for myself when I finished my meeting with Arniel and Howson,” Johansen said. “I have been pretty excited the last couple of days. Hopefully my excitement can carry over.”
Johansen has steadily seen more ice time and his presence on the ice is getting larger by the game. He had nearly 17 minutes of ice against Toronto; just seconds away from a career high.