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Pierre-Luc Dubois powers Blue Jackets to stunning Game 3 OT win vs. Maple Leafs

Pierre Luc-Dubois finishes the hat trick with the OT winner and Elvis Merzlikins stops all 21 shots he faces en route to a 4-3 victory for Columbus that pushes Toronto to the brink of elimination.

Remember when people didn’t think Pierre-Luc Dubois deserved to go third overall in the 2016 NHL Draft? Now PLD will be associated with three for different reasons.

In Game 3, the Maple Leafs once held a 3-0 lead against the Blue Jackets. Columbus then waged a comeback, forcing Game 3 to OT. Ultimately, Pierre Luc-Dubois scored the overtime game-winner, giving him an astounding hat trick. This zany 4-3 OT comeback gives the Blue Jackets a 2-1 series lead, pushing the Maple Leafs to the brink of elimination.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the Blue Jackets’ first postseason hat trick in about as beautiful and memorable fashion as you can ask.


Maple Leafs build 3-0 lead in Game 3, one that won’t last vs. Blue Jackets

Early on, it looked like the story of Game 3 would be the Maple Leafs breaking through against the Blue Jackets.

A fluke Cody Ceci goal helped Toronto take a 1-0 lead after a fairly even first period. The Maple Leafs then rode a William Nylander power-play goal and Nick Robertson’s first playoff tally to suddenly take a 3-0 lead. That Robertson goal was enough to convince John Tortorella to replace Joonas Korpisalo with Elvis Merzlikins.

When Pierre-Luc Dubois scored a power-play goal to decrease Toronto’s lead to 3-1, it seemed innocent enough. But Maple Leafs fans are pretty familiar with that misleading feeling.

Blue Jackets stun Maple Leafs in third period, and OT, thanks to Pierre-Luc Dubois

In continuing the Blue Jackets’ comeback, Seth Jones also redeemed the Ceci goal, which bounced off of him and past Korpisalo.

Less than four minutes after that Jones goal, Pierre Luc-Dubois scored his second goal of Game 3. He even threw in a modified Michael Jordan tongue wag for good measure.

You can imagine that Hockey Twitter enjoyed a field day with the Maple Leafs’ collapse. For those who grew tired of “It was 3-1,” Game 3 of Maple Leafs - Blue Jackets provided “It was 3-0.”

For much of Game 3, the Maple Leafs were moving the puck and gaining space in ways they hadn’t enjoyed against the Blue Jackets. You had to squint to notice Jake Muzzin’s absence. That fledgling Maple Leafs defense fell apart in attempting to protect the lead.

To their credit, the Maple Leafs shook off the shock once they reached overtime. Toronto traded blows with Columbus, with Morgan Rielly, John Tavares, and Auston Matthews among those coming close to winning it. Ultimately, Elvis Merzlikins came through in relief.

To add another wrinkle, the two teams just slogged it out in overtime and must immediately turn around for Game 4 on Friday. For better or worse, the Maple Leafs need to put this stunning Game 3 loss to the Blue Jackets behind them very quickly. And they might want to find some answers against Pierre-Luc Dubois, too.

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs vs. (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ leads series 2-1)

Sunday, Aug. 2: Blue Jackets 2, Maple Leafs 0 (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 4: Maple Leafs 3, Blue Jackets 0 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 6: Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Friday, Aug. 7: Maple Leafs vs. Blue Jackets, 8 p.m. ET - NBCSN
Sunday, Aug. 9: Blue Jackets vs. Maple Leafs (if necessary), TBD

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.