Connect with us


Three goals on three straight shots helps bring Winnipeg Jets within three points of Leafs in 5-2 win

The Winnipeg Jets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 Thursday night, handing the North Division leaders from Toronto their third loss in a row and cutting their lead at the top of the division to three points.

The Jets pounced on the shorthanded Leafs who were missing the league’s leading goal scorer Auston Matthews, who is listed as day-to-day and William Nylander, who is still in COVID-19 protocol.

There was some confusion about the first goal of the game, but ultimately Maple Leafs journeyman Alex Galchenyuk got credit for the first goal. The goal had shades of Patrick Kane’s Stanley Cup winner against Philadelphia in 2010 as only a couple players on the ice actually knew the puck went in.

The cross-ice feed from Mitch Marner and a textbook re-direction had to be slowed down and reviewed to determine the puck indeed snuck past Connor Hellebuyck’s right shoulder and came right back out as play continued.

The Jets had gone all year without giving up a two-man advantage and Thursday was the second game in a row two men sat in the box at the same time.

But some strong penalty killing kept all of Toronto’s shots to the outside and arguably Winnipeg’s strongest penalty killer Derek Forbort broke up a number of passes and blocked a few shots minimizing any danger.

Former Jet Zach Bogosian took an interference penalty just over 10 minutes into the first period opening the door to a flurry of scoring for his old team.

The entire North Division has struggled to figure out how to beat Maple Leafs netminder Jack Campbell, but Nikolaj Ehlers’ wrist shot from the top of the circle found the back of the net just nine seconds into the Jets’ first power play of the night. Before the Maple Leafs announcer could report the first goal, Kyle Connor took a pass from Scheifele and ripped home his 20th of the year. In a span of 30 seconds, the Jets flipped the script scoring on two consecutive shots to grab a 2-1 lead. And they weren’t done just yet.

Clearly taking shots was an effective strategy for the Jets and Mark Scheifele joined the fun, getting a step on the defence and coming in all alone on Jack Campbell. A nice deke made for an easy tuck for Scheifele’s 17th of the year spelling the end of the night for the goaltender nicknamed “Soupy”.

Newly-acquired goaltender David Rittich relieved Campbell who surrendered three goals on three consecutive shots in 3:09.

READ MORE: Hextall on Hockey: Benn to bring depth to Jets’ defence – Winnipeg |

The Leafs came into the second period with a clear sense of urgency pressuring the Jets right from the outset. Strong defensive plays and active sticks from the Jets kept the offensive pressure at bay, but Toronto kept pushing and veteran forward Jason Spezza grabbed a dump-in and whipped it to the front of the net for a waiting John Tavares bringing the Leafs within one midway through the middle frame.

Ehlers and Connor continue to vie for the team lead in goals and a strong forecheck rewarded the Dane with his 20th of the year and second of the game. Ehlers used a burst of speed to not only catch up to Mitch Marner but also pick his pocket, poking a loose puck towards Rittich. The Leafs goaltender opted to try and clear the puck instead of rushing out to cover it, a costly decision as Ehlers poked the puck through Rittich’s legs, giving the Jets a two-goal lead.

Toronto finally pulled Rittich after the goaltender had to race back to the net as the Maple Leafs were looking for an extra attacker. The late push by the Leafs ended abruptly after a battle in front of Hellebuyck led to Zach Hyman getting his stick up high on Neal Pionk as they fought for position in front.

On the ensuing power play, Connor added some insurance sending his 21st goal of the season into the empty net.

Paul Maurice seems to be toying with potential playoff lineups as he’s shuffled players around the last few games and called up defenceman Ville Heinola to line up alongside Dylan DeMelo, replacing Logan Stanley. Thursday’s contest was Heinola’s second NHL game this year, who has put up 10 points in 16 games with the Manitoba Moose this season.

The Jets are going to get much more familiar with the other top teams in the North Division as their next six games are against the Maple Leafs and the Oilers.

The Jets are back home Saturday night to kick off a six-game homestand and you can hear the Jets take on the Oilers at 9 p.m. with pre-game coverage starting at 7 p.m. on 680 CJOB.


Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Must See


More in News