Connor Hellebuyck was sensational, but sometimes sensational doesn’t guarantee wins. His counterpart Jack Campbell was just that much better. On Good Friday, the Winnipeg Jets fell to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in quite possibly the quietest shootout to ever take place at Bell MTS Place.
“You know, Jack Campbell is a good goalie,” Hellebuyck said of his American friend post-game. “He played well against us. It’s just their season so far, and tonight was no different. I got a lot of respect for the guy, and it was fun having a little goaltender battle out there. Those small scoring games against them don’t really happen too often, so it was fun to play.”
Much unlike the Maple Leafs’ first visit to Manitoba this season, the Jets did not give up two goals in the game’s opening frame. Despite neither team coming up with goals in a scoreless first, Winnipeg attempted 21 shots, while Toronto put up 15 attempts in the frame, ultimately seeing a 0-0 first period end with the home team atop the shot tally, 9-6.
The middle stanza saw the teams exchange goals, with Toronto striking first, and Winnipeg knotting the game back up later in the period. Just 5:16 into the frame, a long-range Travis Dermott point shot found its way past a screened Connor Hellebuyck, giving the visitors the first goal of the game.
Winnipeg then saw two separate two-on-one rushes up ice, with Blake Wheeler and Paul Stastny failing to capitalize on the first chance. Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp connected just one minute later, with the former passing the puck cross-ice to the latter. Despite a poor pass, Copp regrouped and put it past Jack Campbell with 8:10 to go in the frame. The goal was a career-high 12th of the season for the 26-year-old.
“They’re great,” Wheeler said of the play of the team’s third line. “Lowsie and Copper have been tremendous in their time together over the last number of years. They allow us to run our bench a certain way. They bring a heaviness to our lineup for sure and Mason Appleton has been one of my brightest, biggest surprises of the year. He just works hard every single game. He’s fit in incredibly well on that line. He’s a little bit like Brandon Tanev in a way just with the energy and speed he brings. So a great line. A huge weapon for our team.”
Toronto’s Alex Kerfoot came close to giving the North Division leaders another lead late in the period, but his wrist shot found iron. A strong push throughout the second set of 20 minutes saw the Leafs pull ahead in the shot department. Registering 17 shots in the frame, Toronto held a 24-20 advantage through 40 minutes of play.
Beginning the third period with a bang, the Leafs found yet another post, as the newest member of the team Alex Galchenyuk rang a heavy wrister off the pipe to open the opportunities for Toronto. Another evenly-matched period saw the Jets get their chances as well.
With nine minutes left in the frame, Mark Scheifele found Kyle Connor alone in the offensive zone, where the Jets’ goal leader attempted to outwait Jack Campbell, but the Leafs’ netminder was able to reach back and make an absolute show-stopper with his left pad, keeping the game deadlocked at ones through regulation, sending the game to a fourth period.
Winnipeg survived a scare through the middle stages of the overtime period. With Pierre-Luc Dubois taking a tripping minor with 3:33 to go in the extra frame, the Leafs went to the power play for two minutes, where Hellebuyck stood on his head, managing to take the game to a shootout with Toronto holding a 38-32 lead in shots.
Jason Spezza scored the only goal of the shootout, with Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Mark Scheifele each missing for the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck played sensationally, but Jack Campbell made just one more save.
Winnipeg failed to capitalize on either of its power plays, while Toronto once again went 0/3 on the man advantage.
The Maple Leafs have now not scored a power play goal since Auston Matthews beat Connor Hellebuyck in Toronto back on March 9 – a span of 10 games or 24 days. The once No.1 power play league-wide operated at just 3.6 percent during the month of March, good for last in the league (no goals in its last 26 opportunities).
Hellebuyck stopped 37 of Toronto’s 38 shots on the night, while seeing his record fall to 17-10-3 with the shootout loss on Friday. His counterpart Jack Campbell turned aside 31 of Winnipeg’s 32 shots, who saw his record improve to a stellar 8-0-0 on the season with a .951 save percentage. With the loss, Winnipeg’s record now sits at 22-13-3 through 38 games.
Through his first 300 career games, Hellebuyck owns a 165-95-25 record, to go alongside a .917 SP and a 2.63 GAA. The 2019-20 Vezina Trophy winner also has 21 shutouts to his name. Not bad for the 130th player selected in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s just a testament to everyone in front of me, the organization believing in me, the goalie coaches really building the game I have that you see now,” Hellebuyck said of his career thus far. “Every day we keep getting better. I’m looking back on 300 now, we’ve made some big strides and I’m really excited to see where this is going.”
Now having completed the two-game set against Toronto, Winnipeg will see a change in schedule from what was originally set from the beginning of the year. With a number Vancouver Canucks players testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and Friday, the Jets will not be hosting Vancouver on Sunday and Tuesday (as was previously scheduled).
As opposed to having the better part of a week of, the team will now welcome the Ottawa Senators to town on Monday for a 6:00 PM central matchup in a one-off contest available to view on TSN. Winnipeg will then hit the road for a five-game road trip that includes stops in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.