Maple Leafs-Jets Preview
With their respective winning streaks now in the past, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets look to get back on track against each other Saturday night in Manitoba.
Toronto (27-21-5) held a 25-15 goal advantage during a season-high six-game run, but that ended in ugly fashion with a 7-1 loss at Dallas on Thursday. Nikolai Kulemin tied the game in the first period but the Maple Leafs managed 25 shots while matching a season high for goals allowed.
"All good things come to an end at some point," said Toronto’s James Reimer, who allowed four goals on 15 shots after Jonathan Bernier was pulled for giving up three on 13.
"(These types of losses) can make you a better person. Keep you honest. I think you flush it. There’s not too much you can take from it. It’s one of those games you just pretend didn’t happen."
Toronto had not allowed more than three goals in seven straight games, but the Stars scored four times in the second period alone. The Maple Leafs killed one of two penalties Thursday, and their opponents are 11 of 43 (25.6 percent) with the man advantage in the last 14 games.
"We just didn’t have anything going," said Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, who played his final 10 seasons for the original Winnipeg Jets. "We have a rebound game on Saturday night. We need to get back to playing the way we’re capable of playing."
Toronto star Phil Kessel was held without a point after totaling six goals and eight assists in the previous seven games. However, he has at least one goal in his last seven road contests against the Jets franchise, and 10 with four assists during a 10-game point streak in the series away from home.
The Maple Leafs have dropped two straight and four of six to Winnipeg (23-24-5), which looks to bounce back after suffering its first defeat in five games under new coach Paul Maurice, 1-0 at San Jose on Thursday. The Jets outscored opponents 16-7 in the first four after Maurice replaced the fired Claude Noel, but were held to 20 shots against the Sharks, including nine over the final two periods.
"I like a lot of what I saw defensively," said Maurice, who went 76-66-22 while coaching Toronto from 2006-08. ”It’s what we are trying to do. Our offense needs to improve. I like this group; they are still young and have potential. These guys are willing and they listen.
"The effort’s there. Are there parts of our game where we can get better? Absolutely. Our goal is to compete and compete hard. We leave (the defeat in San Jose), and take nothing but the learning experience with us and get ready for our next game."
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Ondrej Pavelec, who has a 1.60 goals-against average in his last five starts.
Blake Wheeler’s four-game point streak (two goals, four assists) ended, but he scored four of Winnipeg’s nine goals that led to victories in the last two meetings with the Maple Leafs in 2012-13.