Pretty much as advertised.
David Clarkson, actually, looked much better in general in returning to the Maple Leaf lineup in Columbus on Friday night than he did during the pre-season, which isn't all that unusual for a guy who plays the way he does.Clarkson will soar when the competition gets hot, and Friday night was at least more competitive than any exhibition game.
Other than taking the first penalty of the game (soft call) which resulted in an early Columbus lead, Clarkson played the same type of 200-foot, nose-in-the-middle-of-every-scrum game he did for seven seasons in New Jersey before leaving the Devils as a free agent bound for Toronto last summer.
The game didn't look too fast for Clarkson, who had been sitting around watching for 10 games while he served a suspension for leaving the bench during a fight. There was some chemistry between he and David Bolland, he played some with Nazem Kadri later in the game as Randy Carlyle looked for different combinations and Clarkson had at least one excellent scoring chance in the third.
The Leafs weren't great, and allowing 36 shots will get the choir singing the same sad hymn again. But the 5-2 final included two Columbus goals in the final minute of play, the first into an empty net, and the Leafs forced Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky to come up with some important stops while Jonathan Bernier came up big much of the night for Toronto.
The Blue Jackets, now in the east, are doormats no more, and it was Brandon Dubinsky's shorthanded goal - short-side, yes, but a perfect shot - that made the difference as the Leafs fell to 7-4 on the season while Columbus evened its record at 5-5.
Clarkson skated 15:41 in his return and was a minus-1, and had four shots. He was credited with only one hit, although he was more involved than that.
Frazer McLaren also returned to the Leaf lineup, but played only 3:41.