Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Jets defeat Leafs 2-1
A five-year-old could do this arithmetic, it’s so simple.
The Winnipeg Jets picked a very good night to go back to this fundamental: Two is better than one
The Jets put up more than one actual goal for only the second time in seven games and made them both count for a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs 15,004 ecstatic fans at the MTS Centre on Tuesday night.
Plenty has changed since the Toronto Maple Leafs last left town, also with a one-goal loss on New Year’s Eve. Toronto has gone 10-5-1 since then and is in an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The Jets have sagged from a share of sixth place that night to 10th. Their win Tuesday night pulled them back closer to the line, their 56 points now just five points back of the eighth-place Ottawa Senators and six back of Toronto.
Winnipeg, however, has another avenue in play, at least today. They are just four points out of first place (and the third conference seed) in the Southeast Division and meet the team that occupies the spot, the Washington Capitals, Thursday night in D.C.
"We needed this, especially at home," said Jets winger Blake Wheeler, who keyed the game-winner mid-way through the second period by driving the net from the left wing.
"It’s against a team we’re trying to chase. Getting the win is huge but getting it in regulation is better, keeping them off the board."
The Jets actually bested the Leafs in the four-game season’s series, five points to four.
Tuesday, the Jets had their hands full, as they seem to every night. This time it was Toronto’s excellent speed that was the challenge.
"I think we tried to play with our speed, too," Wheeler said of his team’s counter-play. "We’re a good-skating team but obviously that line of (Phil) Kessel, (Joffrey) Lupul and (Tyler) Bozak have a lot of speed," Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian said. "I just thought we did a good job of tracking back. A few times in the second we got caught over backchecking but we did a better job in the third.
"We’re a quick team and I think people underestimate us."
As is the norm in the second half of the season, the scoring chances were not that plentiful from the outset. In fact, it was only the fourth time this season the Leafs were held under 20 shots, getting just 19 while playing their second game in two nights.
Kessel generated the first goal from a one-on-one break against Jets’ Toby Enstrom as the defender, but the creative Kessel often needs less to create a chance.
As he approached the mid-ice between the circles, he shot back against the flow and caught Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec off balance and the shot found the stick side of the net.
The Jets didn’t hang their heads and gained the equalizer from a surprising source.
After being sent off down the left wing by a Bogosian pass, right-winger Chris Thorburn dug back for the net and whipped a backhander that appeared to go under the catching glove of Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson and into the far side of the net.
It was Thorburn’s second goal of the season, just a little more than four minutes after Kessel’s marker.
The second saw the better of the opportunities go to the Leafs, especially late in the period, but the perfect play was never there and it was the Jets who capitalized on what they had.
Wheeler, like Thorburn, also went down his wrong wing, this time the left, and with a good opportunity to score after going around Cody Franson, it was Bryan Little who dashed in to clean up the rebound for his 12th goal of the season, which was the eventual winner.
Little has two in the last three after going 14 games without a goal through mid-season and an injury.
The Jets then defended the lead through the third and bumped their record to 20-2-1 when leading after two.
Kane likely played with concussion for 14 games
WINNIPEG - Evander Kane is ready to try to help the Winnipeg Jets out of their offensive funk.
The 20-year-old left-winger will return to the lineup tonight when the Jets meet the Toronto Maple Leafs at the MTS Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN Jets, TSN 1290).
Kane has missed the last seven games because of a concussion and admitted this morning he may have played with concussion-like symptoms since taking a hit against the New York Islanders on Dec. 20. He played the rest of that game and 14 more before the symptoms became more acute.
"I don't think it was affecting my play," Kane said after this morning's game-day skate. "It was a long time ago. I got over it quickly. I just wasn't feeling the same as I was most of the year so I wanted to try to take a step back and rest up and get better."
Kane denied this morning that his concussion was the result of any off-ice injury. And while he was at it, he also said there's no truth to the gossip about town that he's walked out on restaurant bills.
"This kind of media attention is to be expected here in Canada," he said. "All eyes are on you and I'm enjoying it."
The matter of the concussion -- in particular, playing with symptoms -- is serious but Kane waffled about his concern during that period after the Islanders game.
"It was the normal symptoms that come along with a concussion," he said. "I just took a bit of a spill, hit my head on the back of the ice. It was just a harmless hit to be honest with you.
"I felt my brain rattle a little bit."
He said he was over it in a day but that that wasn't the end of it, as there were headaches involved.
"I got over it the next day but it just kind of carried on and then that last week before I finally stepped away, I just wasn't feeling myself," he said. "It was probably best to go get examined and evaluated.
"I feel a lot better. It feels good, well-rested and I'm excited about tonight."
Kane is the team's leading goal-scorer this season with 18 goals. The Jets have scored just five times in their last six games.
Before he went out of the lineup, Kane hadn't scored in 10 games.
"Any time you go through a stretch like that, it's never fun," he said. "The games I've missed, I've been able to refresh and regroup."
Jets coach Claude Noel said this morning that players are reminded to report symptoms.
"We’ve mentioned that and our trainers are good in the fact that they do that," Noel said. "But athletes are athletes and if you’ve ever had a concussion it’s strange because you’re not really sure, either. Is it a headache? There’s a lot of emphasis on it now and it’s something we’ve addressed.
"Concussions are out there. It’s one of those things… sometimes you wake up and you’re fine. Sometimes you don’t get anything until a couple days later. Anything now, though, you’ve got to bring it up to the staff and say, ‘I might not be quite right here.’ That’s the only thing you can do."
Kane will go in tonight on a line with Nik Antropov and Kyle Wellwood.
The Jets this morning cleared a spot for Kane on the roster by returning forward Spencer Machacek to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps.
The Winnipeg Jets host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Updated on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 12:09 PM CST: Adds quotes, details
4:50 PM: adds slideshow
7:59 PM: Adds first goal
8:07 PM: Adds second goal
8:14 PM: Updates with first-period result
8:46 PM: Updates score
9:58 PM: Adds final score
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