By Scott Billeck – @scottbilleck
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets won a spirited affair with the Toronto Maples Leafs on Saturday night at the MTS Centre. Here are your Quick Hits from the game:
How it happened: The first period started out with the crowd in fine form, welcoming Leafs starting netiminder, and Manitoba native, James Reimer with a ‘Reim-er, Reim-er’ chant. It wasn’t the only action either as the Jets would find not one, but two ways past Reimer on four shots. First, Mark Scheifele scored his 10th goal and 29th point of the season on the Jets first shot of the game. Kane forced a turnover and found Scheifele made no mistake, firing one home after being wide open in the slot. The second goal came on the Jets first power play of the night as Jacob Trouba spotted and fed a nice pass to a streaking Blake Wheeler. The American Olympian turned on the afterburners and easily beat the Leafs defender and fired one through Reimer’s five-hole. The Jets had two goals on four shots after just 6:34 of the opening period. The rest of the period was littered with back and forth play and some solid saves from Ondrej Pavelec who has been on fire lately in the Jets’ crease.
The second period was a flurry of activity courtesy of both teams. The Leafs opened the scoring with a power play marker from Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. The Jets, however, wouldn’t crumble and responded with two of their own goals in the next two minutes. A power play tally from Bryan Little was followed up with Zach Bogosian’s second goal of the season to give the Jets a 4-1 lead. James Reimer was pulled in favour of Jonathan Bernier, a move that seemed to spark the Leafs. Portage la Prairie native Troy Bodie scored just a minute after Bogosian’s goal to cut the Jets lead to two. Tim Gleason, who was shipped on New Years Day to the Leafs for John Michael-Liles scored his first of the season later in the second on a floater from the point that beat Pavelec to make it 4-3.
After the five goal period that was the second, the goalless third paled by comparison. The Jets did kill off a crucial, bone-headed penalty courtesy of Devin Setoguchi, who found himself in the box for a needless puck-over-the-glass delay of game call. That all didn’t matter though, as with a minute and a half left in the game, Phil Kessel collected a brutal clearing attempt from Bogosian and scored from a sharp angle on Pavelec. Tie game.
Overtime led to chances at both ends of the ice, with Evander Kane getting the best one before Dustin Byfuglien sealed the win on his 12th goal of the season.
Shots: 32-28 Jets
What it means: It was an important win for the Jets, who stopped the bleeding at just one game. They now have to turn their attention to the Chicago Blackhawks in less than 24 hours.
Jets player of the game: Mark Scheifele. His 10th goal of the season was nice and all, but the story on the night was his ability to play a 200-foot game. Scheifele tracked back very well and played deep in both ends of the ice. Honourable mention to Jacob Trouba who played a solid defensive game and thwarted many Leafs chances in the second period.
Jets stat of the game: Besides all of the Leaf fans in the building? The Jets had 12 blocked shots in the first period to the Leafs nil. Ondrej Pavelec recorded his second assist of the season on Wheeler’s 19th goal of the year.
What is next for the Jets: A quick turnaround as the Jets fly out tonight from Winnipeg to face the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night in Chicago.