The Toronto Maple Leafs will look to bounce back from their first loss in six games when they visit the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.
The Leafs, seeking a franchise-record eighth consecutive win on the road, lost to the Dallas Stars 4-3 in a shootout on Saturday night.
Nonetheless, Toronto is rolling. The Maple Leafs rallied to force overtime and have picked up a point in six straight games overall (5-0-1) and are 15-2-1 in their past 18 games.
“It’s a big point for us,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I love that our guys didn’t go away at 3-0. They just dug in and wanted to make a game of it. We fought hard, we played well enough. … All those things combined to give us a gutsy character point here on the road.”
Jason Spezza had two goals and an assist for Toronto, and Auston Matthews extended his goal streak to five games. Morgan Rielly added three assists and Jack Campbell made 37 saves.
Noted for their offense, the Maple Leafs are winning with defense as well and are allowing just 2.20 goals per game.
Toronto played Saturday without forward Mitch Marner, who is fourth on the team with 21 points. He left Friday’s practice after colliding with teammate Jake Muzzin and will miss Sunday’s game as well.
“We gave him the weekend (off) and we’ll get back home to see what’s happening,” Keefe said. “We’re not expecting it to be long term.”
Maple Leafs forward Ondrej Kase returned after missing three games with an upper-body injury. Michael Hutchinson served as Toronto’s backup goaltender Saturday. Goaltender Joseph Woll remains day-to-day with stiffness.
The Jets broke out of a scoring slump Friday night with an 8-4 win against the New Jersey Devils. Winnipeg had scored just nine goals while going 1-5-1 over its past seven games.
Mark Scheifele scored a hat trick, and four other Jets recorded multi-point performances. It was the first multi-goal game of the season for Scheifele.
“We had a tough stretch of hockey,” said Scheifele, who had not scored since Nov. 16. “But when you do the right things over and over, do the simple things, good things happen. I think tonight was just an example of that.”
Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice for Winnipeg, which scored the first three goals and the last five goals of the game, and Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves. The eight goals tied the NHL season high.
“You want to help the team any way you can, and a lot of the guys were able to get a point on a goal,” Ehlers said. “Scoring points is fun; there’s no secret to that. But I think overall we played a game that gave us a chance to win, and we deserve it.”
The Maple Leafs will likely provide a sterner test for Winnipeg’s offense than the Devils, although the Jets are 8-3-1 at home.
Thirty-five-year-old Blake Wheeler, still looking for his first goal to go along with 10 assists, will be playing his 1,000th NHL game. He had three assists against the Devils.
It will be the first meeting of the season between the teams.
–Field Level Media