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Instant Recap: Winnipeg Jets squeak out a victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Jets blew an early lead but won in overtime in front of a divided home crowd.

Marianne Helm

The Jets came home from California to play a quick home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs before heading back on the road to Chicago.  The trip out West was a relative success as the Jets took 2 of 4 points and played pretty well in both games, especially in the 1-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.  Thursday marked the first time that the Jets had lost under Paul Maurice and everybody was anxious to see how they would rebound.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were coming off of an embarrassing 7-1 loss in Dallas on Thursday night and were looking to come back in a big way.  The Leafs had won 6 in a row going into Dallas and they were looking to start a new winning streak  on a snowy Saturday night in Winnipeg.

The first period started off with a quick pace.  The play was back and forth early but with no real strong scoring chances.  The Jets were able to capitalize on their first shot on goal though as Mark Scheifele squeezed the puck past Morweena, Manitoba’s own James Reimer.  Blake Wheeler was able to force a turnover deep and Evander Kane was able to set Scheifele up with the opening marker.  With that goal, Mark Scheifele became the 7th Jets player to hit double digits in the goal scoring column.  3 minutes later, Jacob Trouba was able to hit a streaking Wheeler on the power play and Wheeler put it past Reimer to make it 2-0 Winnipeg.  The Maple Leafs were able to settle the game down and keep the Jets off the board for the remainder of the period.

The second period proved to be an action packed one.  Dion Phaneuf cut the Leafs deficit to 2-1 on the power play but it took Bryan Little less than 2 minutes to add a power play marker of his own to retake the 2 goal lead.  40 seconds later, Zach Bogosian found the back of the net with a seeing eye point shot to make it 4-1 and chase James Reimer in front of friends and family.  Less than a minute later, Troy Bodie scored his second of the year from Nazem Kadri and Morgan Reilly to complete a 4 goal run in a 3:01 span of the game.  Both teams once again found a way to settle down as the period wore on but Tim Gleason managed to score a weak goal, his first of the year, on a wrist shot from the point to make it 4-3 after two periods.

The Toronto Maple Leafs continued to dictate the play into the third period.  The Leafs controlled most of the play and the possession all period.  Phil Kessel was able to put an exclamation point on a Maple Leafs onslaught by hammering a puck in the short side on Ondrej Pavelec with less than two minutes left to even the game at 4.

The overtime period was as wide open as the end of the third and both sides exchanged chances.  Evander Kane had the best chance early when he rang a shot off of the post.  Dustin Byfuglien was able to finally put the game to bed though with 2:16 remaining.  Paul Maurice put him back on defence in OT to play as a hybrid type player and it paid off, giving the Jets their fifth win under Paul Maurice.

The Jets came away with another win tonight, but they will have a lot to think about on the flight down to Chicago tonight.  They were outpossessed and outplayed for the vast majority of the game and they are not going up against the Maple Leafs tomorrow.  Another game like this in the United Center and the final score will more than likely resemble the games earlier this year against the Blackhawks.

Ten Thoughts

There was a span in the first where the Jets fourth line and third defensive pairing were hemmed in their own end for almost a minute and it was ugly.  So many people are so blind to how ineffective these "depth" players are for the Jets.  I don’t know if they are just blinded by the logo on the front or if they are just blind.  Effort is great but it doesn’t matter if you suck.  Bad players are a liability no matter how hard they try.

The Jets were 9/24 in the first period in the faceoff circle.  It worked out as they ended the period with the lead, but that needs to improve if this team wants to make the next step.  Faceoffs=possession=goals

I hate when the opposing team has a lot of fans in the MTS Centre.  I do get it when it’s the Leafs, Habs, Bruins, and Hawks are in town, but I hate it.  I really don’t see many Leaf fans out and about on a regular day, but they seem to come out of the woodwork when they come to town.  I would probably hide it too though.  That said, season ticket holders should maybe hold on to the tickets for these games instead of giving them to their "Leafs Fan" buddy.

Jacob Trouba looked like a rookie in the second period.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise though as he is only 19.  He gets a lot of praise but this will happen from time to time.

The second period onward reminded me a lot of a Claude Noel second period.  The Jets played loose defensively and really lacked intensity.  Could is be that the real Jets are showing their true colours again?

Mark Stuart is not good offensively and tends to get hemmed in his own end A LOT.  I do like his shot blocking (due to being hemmed in his own end a lot), but I love how he is the first guy to stand up for his team mates.

Dustin Byfuglien appears to be losing some of the momentum he had on offence.  I’m not sure if it is him to blame or if it the fact that Olli Jokinen and Devin Setoguchi appear to have lost momentum as well.

I miss Eric O’Dell.  The Jets are essentially a two line team right now and I think re-adding O’Dell would give the bottom 6 an opportunity to get some momentum again.

Ondrej Pavelec looked good in the first period.  He also had a lot of confidence.  Something happened between the first and the second and he looked like the old Ondrej for the remainder of the game.  It may be time for him to get a day off tomorrow night in Chicago.

Michael Frolik does all the little things so well.  He is a RFA this off-season and is represented by the greatest agent in the NHL so I would expect a real fight.  I really hope both sides are smart and something gets done without much grief.