Toronto Maple Leafs’ star Auston Matthews scored a pair of goals early in the second period and the Winnipeg Jets never recovered.
As a result, the Jets lost their second straight game to start a five-game road swing, this time 4-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
However, while the Jets lost an ugly 4-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, Winnipeg played much better on Thursday in Toronto and deserved a more favourable outcome.
Winnipeg outshot Toronto 38-27, controlled the play in the Leafs zone for most of the third period and even won more face-offs and outhit the Leafs. But once again, proving stats are for losers, the Leafs scored three unanswered goals in the second period and that was all they needed.
It was the second straight game in which the Jets allowed three goals in the second.
After a scoreless first period, Matthews scored at the eight-second mark of the second and that seemed to set the tone. He scored again at 3:47 of the second — his 23rd and 24th goals of the season – and then Mitch Marner scored a beautiful short-handed goal at 13:49 of the middle frame to put the game out of reach.
In the third period, the Jets made it 3-1 when Kyle Conner scored his 23rd of the season as Winnipeg enjoyed a two-man advantage. Josh Morrissey and Mark Scheifele assisted as Morrissey scored his career-high 50th point in the 46th game of the season.
From that point on, the Jets dominated the game and peppered Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov with shot-after-shot, but Samsonov was equal to the task (his defence also blocked 16 Jets shots. Winnipeg outshot Toronto 16-6 in the first period and 11-10 in the third but many of the Leafs shots in the third were of the same variety as Toronto’s final goal.
With the Jets net empty, Mark Giordano fired a shot almost the length of the ice and hit the target for his second of the season.
It was a tough way to lose for Winnipeg, but with so little offence this week, one gets the sense that the puck luck that carried the Jets to eight wins in nine outings has suddenly disappeared. Two games, two 4-1 losses and only Kyle Connor has scored.
It was a tough night for the Jets big guns. Morrissey, Connor, Scheifele, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers were each minus-three. Blake Wheeler made one faster line change and was only minus-two.
Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves as he faced only 26 shots. His teammates played much better on Thursday in Toronto than they did on Tuesday in Montreal, but Hellebuyck did not have a good second period.
The Jets play Game 3 of this five-game road swing on Saturday night in Ottawa. Game time is 6 p.m. CST.