TORONTO — They don’t even have 24 hours to dust themselves off and try to save the season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs squandered a 3-0 lead and a golden opportunity Thursday and must beat the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday to extend this Stanley Cup qualifying series to a deciding fifth game.
Pierre-Luc Dubois completed the stunning comeback at Scotiabank Arena at 18:22 of overtime by getting in alone and beating Frederik Andersen with a backhander over the glove.
That gave him the first playoff hat trick in Blue Jackets history.
Toronto was in complete control midway through the game.
It had seen Cody Ceci score the first short-handed goal and first playoff goal of his career before William Nylander struck on the power play and 18-year-old Nick Robertson hammered a one-timer through Joonas Korpisalo for his first career NHL goal.
That made it 3-0 and prompted John Tortorella to send goaltender Elvis Merzlikins in to replace Korpisalo.
Columbus found a hint of life with a Dubois goal before the second intermission, and completely tilted the ice in the third. Seth Jones got the Blue Jackets back to 3-2 by tucking a beautiful shot up under the crossbar at 7:27 and Dubois tied it off the rush at 10:49.
Dubois nearly completed the hat trick in the dying minutes of regulation, but was denied by Frederik Andersen. Auston Matthews had an open look stopped by Merzlikins a short time later, before Ceci jumped off the point and nearly slipped a shot through his five-hole, setting the stage for overtime.