Jets outshoot Leafs, lose on turnovers and errors
WINNIPEG -- The potential for a run-and-gun, shootout-style matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night was very real, given the amount of talent, speed, and skill assembled on both squads.
And the final score, a 6-3 Maple Leafs win, and final shot totals, 48-28 in favour of the Jets, could seem indicative of such a game. But the visiting team’s number of shots and chances in the early stages illustrate otherwise, according to Jets’ captain Blake Wheeler.
“They had 11 shots over halfway through the game, so that’s a pretty good number. I think we had about 30 something,” he said dryly following the game. “I mean, a great offensive team, and no doubt the talent level on that team. (But) they had 11 shots. That’s not bad, I think.”
The sentiment; that Winnipeg played well enough defensively to limit opportunities for an offensively explosive team, was echoed by Patrik Laine.
“I think we played some good hockey against that kind of team,” he said. “We didn’t give up too many shots, they cracked the bar a couple times, but we just made a couple mistakes that cost us a couple goals.”
Toronto’s opening goal, courtesy of William Nylander, came after a puck-handling gaffe from Connor Hellebucyk. Kasperi Kapanen scored their second goal, the benefactor of a turnover by Luca Sbisa.
Two goals on just eight shots in the opening frame, and then three more goals on nine more shots in the second period proved to be too much for the Jets to overcome.
“Yeah, very opportunistic,” said Wheeler, when asked about the opposition.
“We had a couple of tough turnovers to start, and then you’re down two,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “We got behind it and couldn’t get it to even, couldn’t make the ones we needed to go in the second to give ourselves a chance, and that was the game.”
All three Jets’ tallies came in the second frame: Kyle Connor scored their first goal of 2020 and his 21st of the regular season, Laine notched his 15th marker mere minutes later, and Mark Scheifele netted his 19th.
Hellebuyck was replaced by Laurent Brossoit to start the third period, after allowing five goals on 17 shots. He’s now allowed three or more goals in eight of his last nine starts.
The loss sees Winnipeg come out on the wrong side of six of their last eight games; just three points back of Dallas for third place in the Central Division, but only four points ahead of the currently-out-of-a-playoff-spot Minnesota Wild. The Jets now embark on a four-game road trip, starting Saturday afternoon in Minnesota.