Filatov makes Maple Leafs pay in shootout
Rookie leads Blue Jackets to win after Toronto blows lead late in regulation
Last season's bad habits continue to creep into the Toronto Maple Leafs' game as they prepare for the start of the 2008-09 NHL campaign.
Toronto blew another third-period lead Sunday night as Jakub Voracek and Jason Chimera scored 15 seconds apart late in regulation to help Columbus overcome a 4-2 deficit.
After a scoreless overtime, Blue Jackets rookie Nikita Filatov beat Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala glove-side for a 5-4 win in a shootout.
Dan LaCosta, who relieved Fredrik Norrena in the Columbus net, denied Mikhail Grabovski and Tomas Kaberle in the shootout.
"I didn't sense any timidness or anything like that," said Leafs coach Ron Wilson, referring to the collapse late in the third period. "We were taking the game to them and it's just a little bump in the road and the wheels fall off."
Toronto will open the regular season Thursday at Detroit, where they'll watch the Red Wings raise a Stanley Cup banner.
The Maple Leafs' sixth loss in nine pre-season contests spoiled a strong performance by Grabovski, who scored his team-leading fifth pre-season goal and fourth in as many games while adding two assists.
The flashy centre finished the pre-season with five goals and eight points in eight games and made a good impression during training camp.
"He competes hard," said Toronto general manager Cliff Fletcher. "With us, he's going to have a lot of opportunity to play in offensive situations."
When Trader Cliff acquired the speedy forward from Montreal in July, he liked Grabovski's upside and said, "we will look for him to contribute for us right away at the centre position."
Grabovski, 24, seems to have found chemistry with linemates Niklas Hagman and Jiri Tlusty late in the pre-season, giving Toronto head coach Ron Wilson a complement to the projected top line of Nik Antropov, Alex Ponikarovsky and Jason Blake.
Grabovski tied Sunday's game 2-2 midway through the second period when he one-timed a Hagman feed from the slot.
Later, he set up Anton Stralman and Ponikarovsky to give the Maple Leafs a 4-2 advantage early in the third period.
Mike Van Ryn also scored for Toronto (2-5-2), which will host the Blue Jackets on Feb. 19 in the only regular-season meeting between the teams.
"I think we had more games than practices [in the pre-season] so we didn't really have quality time to practice too much," said Toskala. "I think we're just learning all the time. We're still halfway in the process."
First-round pick Luke Schenn, 18, turned in another solid game on the Maple Leafs blue-line Sunday and seems destined to start the season in the NHL.
Fletcher hinted that an entry-level contract for the young defenceman was already in place.
The Leafs must make their final roster decisions over the next couple days. An official team list must be submitted to the league by 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Filatov also had a goal in regulation for Columbus (4-4-0), with Alexandre Picard rounding out the scoring.
With files from the Canadian Press