The Toronto Maple Leafs swept the two games in Winnipeg, but the Jets weren’t completely empty-handed as they settled for a single point in a 2-1 shootout defeat on Friday at Bell MTS Place.
The Jets were much better than the previous encounter 48 hours earlier and controlled the game for much of the third period, but failed to get the go-ahead. The Jets were thwarted time and again by Maple Leafs tender Jack Campbell who barely got on top of Connor Hellebuyck in this goaltending duel.
“He played well against us,” said Hellebuyck. “I got a lot of respect for the man, and it was nice to have a little goalkeeper fight there. Those little scoring matches against them don’t really happen very often. “
RAW: Interview with Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck – April 2
Campbell finished with 31 stops and has yet to lose this season, now 8-0 in eight appearances.
But it’s hard to blame Hellebuyck for the loss, which made 37 saves in his 300th career game. He made a ton of great saves in the early stages of the game, then knocked out the Leafs in extra time while the Jets had a man in the penalty kick.
“Our goalkeeper was excellent tonight,” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. “Some of those overtime savings were just incredible, so hats off to our back end and Helly (Hellebuyck). They played great tonight. “
Despite leaving their last game on the first break with an undisclosed injury, Wheeler was back in the lineup for the rematch. He had three shots on target in just over 15 minutes of ice age. Earlier in the day, there was some doubt whether or not he would play, but Wheeler was unwilling to discuss his post-game injury.
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Blake Wheeler Interview – April 2
The third line of the Jets of Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp and Mason Appleton was compared to the top line of Leafs for much of the night. Not only did they keep Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner off the score sheet, but they also scored the Jets’ only goal to win the game.
“We really didn’t mess with the puck too much in the neutral zone,” said Copp. “I don’t think we wanted to do that against that line and feed their transition game.
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“Try to be as physical as possible with those guys. Obviously, Marner and Matthews are pretty elusive, so they’re pretty hard to get hold of, but I thought we did the best we could and we tried to defend them. “
RAW: Interview with Winnipeg Jets Andrew Copp – April 2
The shootout loss leaves the Jets four points behind the Leafs for first place in the North Division.
Jets defender Tucker Poolman led the Jets with a 24:50 ice age in their career, almost three minutes more than his previous high.
Kyle Connor led the team with six shots, but saw his four-game streak come to an end.
READ MORE: Game Winnipeg Jets rescheduled, Nathan Beaulieu ready for post-surgery season
The Leafs had a quick attack on their last performance 48 hours earlier just four minutes after the game, and they almost did it again. Zach Hyman shot around the net and circled in front of the goal, and Hellebuyck got just fed up with the puck when it seeped just inches wide.
Just past the middle of the first, Nate Thompson saw a wide open Appleton in the slot, but Campbell made the stop on the wrist. There was no goal in a fairly balanced first period when the Jets had the advantage in shots 9-6.
The two sides exchanged opportunities to start the second frame, and just after the five minutes, Travis Dermott’s long shot escaped Hellebuyck. His second goal of the season opened the scoring.
Winnipeg tied the score just after the middle of the period thanks to more great third-tier play from Jets. On a 2v1, Lowry sent him to Copp and took him off his skate before tucking him behind Campbell. It’s a new career that’s best for Copp with his 12th goal of the season.
The Leafs called one of the pipe in the last minute of the period and it was all on its way to the final frame. The shots were 17-10 for Toronto in the second.
After Alex Galchenyuk hit the post to open the third, the Jets came out strong. They fringed the leaves in their own zone in the middle of the period. Winnipeg had several quality opportunities, but the game remains the same.
The Leafs had some glorious chances to win the game in extra time while Pierre-Luc Dubois was in the box for a trip penalty, but Hellebuyck held out.
Campbell saved Connor to open the gunfight. Jason Spezza gave the Leafs the edge when he covered Hellebuyck before putting him just inside the post. Dubois then went for the Jets but his shot was stopped by Campbell with a nice kick-save.
Matthews got a chance to end it, but just missed it. Mark Scheifele had to score to lengthen the shootout, but shot wide right to give the Leafs the extra point.
The last shots were 38-32 for Toronto.
READ MORE: COVID-19 Protocols Force NHL To Postpone 2 Games For Winnipeg Jets
Earlier on Friday, Maurice revealed that defender Nathan Beaulieu will miss the rest of the season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery on Thursday to repair a torn labrum.
The Jets are back in action on Monday after the NHL shook their schedule following the cancellation of a few games with a COVID-19 outbreak at the Vancouver Canucks.
The Jets will host the Ottawa Senators Monday from 6pm and you can listen to the game live on 680 CJOB with Kelly Moore, Paul Edmonds and Jamie Thomas.
RAW: Interview with Winnipeg Jets Paul Maurice – April 2
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