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Defense Likely to Reign Again in Third Toronto-Columbus Tilt

John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a goal past Joonas Korpisalo #70 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round.

With the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs having swapped shutouts over the first two games of their postseason qualification series, it’s likely that scoring will continue to be at a premium as the teams meet up in Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday. Columbus kicked off the best-of-five with a 2-0 triumph, but Toronto responded with a 3-0 win to even the series.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Date/Time: August 6, 8 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Scotiabank Arena
  • TV Coverage: FS-O, SNET, NBCSN
  • Opening Odds: Maple Leafs -155 | O/U 5.5 (Line History)
  • Maple Leafs vs Blue Jackets Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

The Maple Leafs find themselves as comfortable favorites for the third consecutive game, with the odds sitting between -150 and -155. Not surprisingly, the total is locked in at 5.5 (with the U5.5 all the way down at -140 in most spots).

Toronto News & Notes

One look at the Game 2 score and you might think that the Maple Leafs deftly solved their offensive woes against one of the top defensive units in the league. But a closer look reveals just how hard Toronto had to work – the Leafs fired 39 shots on goal in the win, and still didn’t get on the board until Auston Matthews’ tally with four minutes remaining in the second period.

And while the defensive effort was among the best of the season (Columbus had just 20 shots on target in defeat), duplicating it could prove difficult with one of Toronto’s top blue-liners out of the lineup. Jake Muzzin will miss the remainder of the series after being taken off on a stretcher after he was cross-checked by Columbus forward Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Columbus News & Notes

The Blue Jackets have to be pleased about how their back end has performed against the high-powered Maple Leafs, but offense remains a concern. In addition to being held in check in Game 2, Columbus has failed to score a power-play goal in six chances so far in the series, an extension of its season-long struggles with the man advantage (16.4 percent, 27th overall).

If the Blue Jackets hope to avoid being put on the brink of elimination, they’ll almost certainly need more out of Oliver Bjorkstrand. Columbus’s leading goal scorer during the regular season (21) has been a ghost through the first two games of the series. He has been held without a point, has a minus-2 rating and didn’t even have a shot on goal in the 3-0 Game 2 defeat.

Betting Pick: UNDER

It’s hard to see these teams producing six or more goals in any game in this series. We eagerly lean toward the UNDER here.

Shark Bites
  • Columbus is 4-13 SU in its last 17 games.
  • Toronto has converted the UNDER in 5 straight games.
  • The UNDER has cashed in Columbus’s last 5 games.