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Jets Topple Leafs in Shootout at Toronto’s Corral

Photo by Jordy Grossman

Jets Topple Leafs in Shootout at Toronto’s Corral

At some point, like probably today, Winnipeg Jets President and Governor Mark Chipman should call the NHL head office and offer to play the remaining games of his team’s season on the road.

Yeah, yeah, we know the Jets need the home revenue, but this team that struggles mightily at home is truly brilliant on the road.

Wednesday night at Toronto’s Scotiabank Centre, Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler scored three straight goals — after the Jets fell behind 1-0 — in a four-round shootout to give Winnipeg a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Winnipeg is now 14-7-2 on the road this season. and 3-0-1 in their past four road games. The Jets are in the midst of a a stretch of seven of 10 games on the road and they appear to be loving every minute of it. After all, this is a team that hasn’t lost consecutive games in regulation on the road this season. Winnipeg has claimed five of six points so far on the trip.

With Wednesday’s thrilling victory, the Jets are now 2-0-1 one this four-game road trip that will conclude in Boston on Thursday night. The Jets were outright robbed by a horrible call in a 3-2 OT loss to Minnesota on Sunday afternoon and then with a 3-2 win over Montreal on Monday night and that 4-3 victory in Toronto on Wednesday, the Jets are now 24-16-4 on the season and right back in the battle for a playoff spot in the West.

What makes the last two victories particularly sweet is the fact that Winnipeg lost 6-2 to Montreal at home on Dec. 23 and 6-3 to Toronto at home on Jan. 2. If the Jets could find a way to be better than 10-9-2 at home this season, they’d be a contender for top spot in the Central Division.

On Thursday night in Toronto, it was a fast-skating, high-octane hockey game right from the opening face-off.

The Jets opened the scoring at the four-minute mark of the first period when Nikolaj Ehlers found a loose puck that had bounced wildly to his stick with Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen way out of position. Ehlers deposited the disc in the empty net as Wheeler and Neal Pionk drew the assists.

Auston Matthews scored his first of the game just 56 seconds later from Mitch Marner to tie the affair. It was Matthews’ 30th of the season.

However, the Jets took a 2-1 lead at 18:00 when Mason Appleton stole the puck from Leafs captain John Tavares and scored a shorthanded goal. It was the first of the season for Appleton who now has four in his NHL career.

In the second period, Dmytro Timashov scored his fourth of the year at the six-minute mark to tie the game at two but at 11:45 Mark Scheifele ripped a shot past Andersen to give the Jets a 3-2 advantage.

However, after a time out and with and empty net and six attackers, Matthews scored his 31st of the season at 19:46 of regulation to send the game to extra time.

In OT, the Jets had two glorious chances to end it, one on a 2-0 breakaway and one on a Scheifele breakaway, but Andersen made two brilliant saves.

However, after Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck gave up a goal to Jason Spezza to let Toronto take a quick 1-0 shootout lead, Laine — the game’s second star — along with Scheifele and Wheeler all scored to give the Jets a 3-2 shootout win.

Both teams finished with 28 shots on goal while Winnipeg won 51 per cent of the face-offs and outhit Toronto 25-9. The Jets were zero-for-two on the power play while Toronto was zero-for-three. It was Winnipeg’s 14th one-goal win this season.

Scheifele leads the Jets in scoring on the road with 10 goals and 27 points in 23 games, while Nikolaj Ehlers has a team-best 13 goals.

The Jets get no rest. They’ll face the Bruins in Boston at 6 p.m. CST to wrap up the four-game road swing. Then they’ll return to Winnipeg for a Sunday-afternoon game against the Nashville Predators.

Covered his first junior hockey game for the Sarnia Observer in 1968. Covered his first Jets game for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1980. Still thinks hockey is the bees knees.

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