Lucas Viveiros | The Avro Post
Saturday evening was a battle between Canada’s two marquee clubs, with the Toronto Maple Leafs falling to the Winnipeg Jets 3-1.
It wasn’t quite the head to head match up fans expected between dynamic sophomore’s Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, who were smothered by the opposition for the better part of the game.
Overall, there were not a lot of chances traded, strong defensive structure, and a physical edge to the game that could be the start of a great rivalry for years to come.
It took over 22 minutes for the first goal to be scored, as the Leafs were able to strike on their lethal power play courtesy a beautiful feed from Auston Matthews, which set up Patrick Marleau (26) on the door step.
The fun would end their for Toronto, as the Jets would strike three times in the middle frame following Marleau’s tally.
Jets defensemen Josh Morrissey was able to get a seeing-eye point shot past Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who was in goal on the second night of a back-to-back for the Buds.
Under a minute later, Winnipeg centre Mark Scheifele was cross checked from behind by Leafs d-man Jake Gardiner, sending him to the penalty box. This came a mere seconds after Scheifele ran over McElhinney, causing a brief scare for the Leafs back-up.
As a result, Dustin Byfuglien beat a screened McElhinney during the Gardiner infraction, handing the Jets their first lead of the hockey game.
Toronto was never able to gain back substantial momentum, as the Jets iced the game with their third goal of the frame, on a short side goal by Andrew Copp.
The third period provided its ebbs and flows for both teams, but neither were able to find the scoresheet, ending the match 3-1.
The Maple Leafs will hit the ice next for their final meeting of the season against QEW rival Buffalo.
Game time is scheduled for 7:00pm from the Air Canada Centre and can be watched on TSN 4.
More news from the ice
- The Maple Leafs now have the third seed in the Atlantic division locked up, not being able to move up or down in the standings (will either play Tampa or Boston in the first round)
- The Leafs remain four points shy of setting a new team record for points in a season (with three games to play)
- Forward Leo Komarov returned to the lineup after missing seven games, replacing speedy Andreas Johnson
- Defensemen Travis Dermott left the game and did not return after blocking a shot in the first period
- Mitch Marner’s point streak came to an end at 11 games, scoring five goals, and 11 assists over that span
- Toronto and Winnipeg will be the only Canadian teams who qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season
- With the win, the Winnipeg Jets secure home ice advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 1985
- If the Stanley Cup Playoffs began today the Leafs and Lightning would meet in round one with Game 1 starting in Tampa
More coverage to follow. Image from the Toronto Star.