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Jets take down Leafs 5-4 in overtime

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Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press

Jets' forward Dustin Byfuglien knocks down Leafs' forward Troy Bodie in the second period at MTS Centre Saturday night.

WINNIPEG —There have been times a loosely packed snowball has been enough to shatter the Winnipeg Jets’ night.

As the team stumbled along close to .500 all season — and even for more than two years, one could argue — it always seemed to find things to fear and gravitate towards uncertainty.

But if tonight's game was any indication, all of that could be changing.

A late sizzler of a shot by Toronto Maple Leafs' star Phil Kessel shook the Jets — sending the game into overtime with just 1:33 left in regulation. But again under new coach Paul Maurice, the Jets held it together for Dustin Byfuglien’s overtime laser and a 5-4 victory.

"I think that’s been our big thing around here, just sticking with the game plan and not getting away from it, even if we get down and we’re chasing the score the whole night, you’re bound to get your shots and opportunities to score," Byfuglien said after firing his 12th goal of the season, a too-hot-to-handle shot past Leafs' goalie Jonathan Bernier at 2:44 of the extra period.

A week ago, the Jets were trailing the lowly Edmonton Oilers for the longest of times before the team found a way to rally, also in overtime, on a Jacob Trouba marker.

Against the Leafs tonight, a 4-1 second-period lead was eventually spent, but no matter. The Jets found a way again, putting Maurice’s record at 5-1 in the two weeks he’s been on the job.

"I know the scoring progression is going to say we blew a 4-1 lead but I didn’t feel we didn’t generate anything and that they were all over us," Maurice said. "They had some flurries, they have some real good players. And we had some great chances, too.

"The tying goal, I’ll take responsibility for that. I’m trying to instill a certain confidence in our back end to make plays with the puck, not be banging the thing off the glass all night when we probably could have used a bang off the glass."

The mistakes and Kessel’s potential heart-breaker aside, confidence seems to be appearing.

"I like our bench." Maurice said. "It’s calm. They’re saying the right things to each other in a pressure-filled game."

Support yes, blinders no

Now back to .500 at 24-24-5, good for 53 points, Maurice has made a big deal of trying to boost the confidence of his fragile players after the slide that cost Claude Noel his job.

"Yes, but that’s a function of every coaching change; I’ve been through that twice in-season," the coach said. "You’re grinding those guys at the end so hard what ends up happening is you end up coaching mistakes."

Still, Maurice said that confidence and better play does not come from words.

"We critique our games pretty close but it’s a matter of getting better," he said. "I’ve had a few conversations individually to let players know that I’m now viewing their game differently and ‘Geez, I’d like you to work hard and something has to happen on a positive note for you very soon or we’re going to make change.’"

Reimer yanked

In another start in his home province, Morweena’s James Reimer was not treated well by the Jets nor the team's fans.

Reimer allowed goals by Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler on the first four shots he faced, and was hooked in the second period after goals by Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian just 37 seconds apart. His night finished with four goals on 19 shots, but Bernier took the loss, his only blemish that he couldn’t handle Byfuglien’s final shot.

Youngsters push

Fifty-three games into the season, there doesn’t yet appear to be any sag for Jets’ rookies Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba.

Both were contributors on Saturday, Scheifele with his 10th goal of the season and Trouba with an assist and 25 minutes, 39 seconds of icetime.

For Scheifele, he’s now put up nine goals and 24 points in his last 29 games after a cautious start.

Trouba now has 18 points on the season and is a plus-six.

 

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Live Winnipeg Jets Coverage Twitter bird

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets Paul Maurice: "Overtime win on a Saturday night against the Leafs. We’ll take her and enjoy every inch of it." 9:27 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Dustin Byfuglien wins it in OT for the #NHLJets, 5-4. Winnipeg now 5-1 under Paul Maurice. 8:45 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Extra fun here tonight. #NHLJets and Leafs headed to OT tied 4-4. Credit Toronto for rallying from being down 4-1. 8:40 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Leafs come all the way back from down 4-1 to tie it 4-4 with 1:33 remaining. Kessel from a low angle beats Pavelec. #NHLJets 8:38 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets held a 4-1 lead for 61 seconds; now 4-3 as the Leafs have answered in a big way. 7:47 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Leafs right back in this thing as Carter Ashton beats Ondrej Pavelec with softie. Now 4-3 #NHLJets. 7:42 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: And the Leafs counter 61 seconds later as Troy Bodie, the pride of Portage la Prairie, beats Pavelec. 4-2 #NHLJets. 7:27 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Joint is hopping now as #NHLJets score 37 seconds apart to take 4-1 lead. Zach Bogosian point shot beats a screened Reimer. 7:24 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets get second PP goal to go up 3-1; Bryan Little smart tip of a feed from Toby Enstrom after a weak clearing attempt by Leafs. 7:22 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets back to the PP. Gunnarsson for boarding; Stuart and Gleason off for roughing. 7:20 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Leafs draw to within 2-1 on PP goal by Dion Phaneuf. Huge cheer from the Toronto faithful in the bldg. #NHLJets 7:16 pm on Jan 25

  • OfficialJetFuel

    @OfficialJetFuel: The Jets have 12 blocked shots. The Leafs have 0 blocked shots. #NHLJets 6:57 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Good pressure by #NHLJets as first ends. Remains 2-0 Winnipeg after one. 6:47 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets to the PP again with Franson off for hooking. 6:30 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: Ondrej Pavelec picks up an assist on Wheeler's goal. Now has two assists, tying him with James Wright in the #NHLJets scoring race. 6:22 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets jump ahead 2-0 as Blake Wheeler blows by Franson and then beats Reimer 5-hole. Winnipeg's first PP goal in four games. 6:21 pm on Jan 25

  • WFPEdTait

    @WFPEdTait: #NHLJets starters: Kane, Scheifele, Wheeler, Trouba, Stuart, Pavelec. Scratches: Redmond, Tangradi, O'Dell. 6:03 pm on Jan 25

  • garylawless

    @garylawless: Any suggestions on where to find #nhljets game in downtown chicago? So far it's mother hubbards 2:46 pm on Jan 25

  • reporterchris

    @reporterchris: The door opens a crack for James Reimer, plus more #leafs-#nhljets notes ahead of tonight's game: sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/rei… 12:34 pm on Jan 25

History

Updated on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:02 PM CST: Updates score after first period; changes headline.

8:55 PM: Updates final score, changes headline and photo.

10:03 PM: Adds slideshow.

10:43 PM: Replaces pre-game story with post-game story.

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