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26 games later, he's Wright on

Checking forward kicks monkey off back with 1st goal

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TORONTO -- He's been painfully close -- to the point that he started making light of himself earlier this week.

Saturday night, Winnipeg Jets checking forward James Wright finally hit the mark, scoring his first goal for the Jets in the 26 games since being claimed on waivers near the start of the season.

Wright, going to the net early in the second period, converted Kyle Wellwood's centring pass to give Winnipeg the first of its four second-period goals.

It was his second point for the Jets this season and his third NHL goal. He scored two for Tampa Bay earlier in his career.

"I really owe it to Welly to score that one because he's set me up a couple of times like that," said Wright, the 22-year-old from Saskatoon. "To get it out of the way is pretty nice."

Wright has been very effective on a line with Wellwood and Nik Antropov in recent games and the line had a hand in Winnipeg's excellent pressure that resulted in four goals in Saturday's second period.

"We were able to get a cycle going there," Wright said. "We were able to get a few good shifts there and we just rolled off of it.

"And we produced four real quick goals. Still, we have to look at this game as a learning point. Any time you're up 4-1, you don't want to have to win in a shootout."

With the shootout dragging on to a 10th round, did Wright wonder if it would come to his turn?

"Yeah, but I don't want to tell you (what I was going to do)," he laughed.

Kadri proving worth

Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been through the grinder with the franchise -- and plenty of it in the media -- but is clearly developing into a worthy first-round draft pick from 2009.

Just 22, Kadri shares the lead in team scoring with veteran Phil Kessel. Each has 27 points, Kadri's latest points coming with two assists in Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Jets.

"It's gone pretty well for me," Kadri said Saturday.

"I think I've been pretty consistent the whole year and it's really what I wanted to focus on coming into this year, not being a streaky player and being able to put up numbers, not just numbers, but being able to contribute on different levels."

He seems to have flourished under Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and clearly sounds like part of the team's core group at this stage, even with the team dropping five straight.

"Just because some of these games we've lost, well, it hasn't been like we've played terrible or thrown games away," Kadri said.

"We've had some mistakes that have resulted in some goals which hurt us, but we've done a lot of good things against some pretty good hockey teams."


The Jets won the season series from Toronto, four points to three...Winnipeg's road record now stands at 9-5-2 with eight more to go away from home... Toronto had two unsuccessful power plays, running Winnipeg's clean penalty-killing streak to 11 games, now 28 kills in a row.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 17, 2013 B5

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