Jets 2, Maple Leafs 1
After watching his team’s offense struggle on a six-game road
trip, Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel hoped his team would score
more than once at home against Toronto.
He got his wish, barely, but two goals were enough to cool off
the Maple Leafs.
Chris Thorburn scored and Bryan Little added the go-ahead goal
as the Jets edged the Maple Leafs 2-1 Tuesday.
”We don’t particularly care who it comes from as long as we get
a little more than one,” Noel said after Thorburn scored his
second goal of the season to get the Jets rolling.
Winnipeg has 56 points, winning at a loud MTS Centre after a 2-4
road trip in which it scored just six goals over six games.
Home-ice advantage has been one of the few consistent weapons the
Jets have found this season.
The Jets made the most of their brief homestand, and now hit the
road for two more away games starting Thursday in Washington. The
Jets hope this result will lead to better success on the road.
”We haven’t been pretty good on the road but hopefully this win
will kind of set things in motion,” Little said. ”We have another
big road trip coming up and we need these points. Every game is
going to be important for us.”
Winnipeg forward Evander Kane made his first appearance in the
Jets’ lineup since Jan. 19 after missing games with concussion-like
symptoms but his ice time was limited.
”Hopefully next game I’m a little more involved,” said Kane,
who showed no reluctance to go into the corners.
”Taking those hits early on just gave me a little more
Toronto failed to gain any ground in the Eastern Conference
playoff race. The Maple Leafs are in seventh place in the
conference, one point ahead of Ottawa.
Toronto had won three games in a row and lost only one in its
previous six coming into Winnipeg.
Phil Kessel scored Toronto’s goal, skating smoothly around
Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom to slip his 30th of the season
past Ondrej Pavelec at 11:06 of the first period.
Winnipeg answered as Thorburn scored at 14:16. Thorburn flipped
a solid backhand past Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
The Jets went ahead for good at 9:47 of the second period.
Gustavsson made a great save to keep Blake Wheeler from scoring,
but Little slammed in the rebound to give Wheeler a team-leading 26
Pavelec made 17 saves for the Jets, while Gustavsson stopped 27
shots for the Leafs.
”All season long we’re staying positive,” Pavelec said.
”We know we can play. We know we can beat those teams.”
Manitoba native James Reimer, who has been playing well for the
Leafs, didn’t second-guess coach Ron Wilson’s decision to give him
a rest, but admitted it was a little frustrating to sit.
”It was disappointing. I felt like we had the chances and we
controlled most of the play,” he said.
”We just couldn’t find any good scoring chances in tight. Kudos
to them for blocking up the net.”
Winnipeg and Toronto both failed to score on two power-play
Notes: The Leafs lost their first game in Winnipeg 3-2 on Dec.
31. In that game, Antti Miettinen had two of the three assists he
has managed since donning a Jets uniform. … Winnipeg defenseman
Zach Bogosian left the game clutching his wrist early in the
second, but returned later in the period.