Maple Leafs get past Jets in shootout
For a second there, it looked like Winnipeg Jets rookie Mark Scheifele was going to do a number on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Scheifele, a native of Kitchener, Ont., scored his first career NHL goal Wednesday, but the Maple Leafs spoiled a memorable night for Winnipeg's first round draft pick and edged the visiting Jets 4-3 in the shootout.
Toronto (4-0-1) scored two power play goals 27 seconds apart in the third period to avoid its first regulation loss. Rookie forward Matt Frattin netted the shootout winner in the two teams' first meeting in 15 years.
The Leafs have won four of their last five, while a red-hot Phil Kessel, a streaky player throughout his career, had a three-point night to lead the NHL with 12 points.
Kessel was involved in all three of Toronto's goals in regulation, potting his league-leading seventh goal of the season, and collecting a pair of assists. He missed in the shootout, but Joffrey Lupul got one past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, and added two more in regulation.
Armstrong stays behind
Forward Colby Armstrong won't be joining the Maple Leafs when they start their four-game road trip Thursday in Boston.
Armstrong hobbled off the ice in the first period against the Jets with an apparent leg injury.
Various ailments and a broken foot kept Armstrong out of the lineup at the end of last season.
Clarke MacArthur was also injured in Wednesday's game, but is listed as day-to-day and will make the trip with the team.
"Only time will tell if he finds a way to be more consistent," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "But I don't see any holes in his game right now. He's backchecking, forechecking, making good decisions with the puck and staying on top of things. He wants the puck all the time, he's demanding it and he's getting it. That's the big thing."
Jets get early jump
Defenceman Tobias Enstrom opened the game's scoring for Winnipeg (1-3-1) at 9:49 in the first period. From the blue-line, Enstrom got the puck through a screen of bodies and past Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer.
The Leafs responded two minutes later when Kessel raced down the ice and fed Lupul, who shot a one-timer past Pavelec and dinged it off the net camera.
But from that point the Leafs struggled, managing only 12 shots in the first two periods.
Winnipeg pulled ahead in the second when centreman Alex Burmistrov sealed a give-and-go with former Leaf Nik Antropov. Shortly after, Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek gave up the puck to Scheifele, who looked like he'd get his first tally on Reimer's glove side, but missed.
Komisarek drew a penalty on the play and on the ensuing power play Scheifele knocked it in stick side at 7:53 to make it 3-1 Jets.
Scheifele pumped his fist in celebration as his family, friends and an impressive showing of Jets fans cheered loudly from the stands of the Air Canada Centre.
"It was definitely special to get it here in front of a bunch of people that came to the game," Scheifele said. "But it would've been nicer to get the win."
Cue the comeback
Late in the third, the Leafs capitalized on back-to-back power play chances. An interference call by Zach Bogosian led to Lupul's second of the night. A tripping penalty by Derek Meech allowed Kessel to tie it 3-3 after one-timing a pass from captain Dion Phaneuf at 7:55.
Almost all of Toronto's offence over its first five games has come from the first line of Kessel, Lupul and Tyler Bozak.
"The fact of the matter is that line got the job done with different centremen at different times," Wilson said. "Those two guys [Kessel and Lupul] are hot. We've got to find a way to get the Grabovski line going a little bit more here."
Kessel and his teammates leapt into the air to celebrate his equalizer, meeting Phaneuf in a chest bump that got the crowed energized for a fast-paced overtime period.
The extra frame solved nothing. Lupul and Burmistrov struck again in the shootout and Frattin sent the Leafs on a winning note into their first road trip of the season.
The Maple Leafs travel to Boston Thursday to meet the defending Stanley Cup champions, while Winnipeg looks for their second win of the season in Ottawa.
Winnipeg can take their improved power play into the nation's capital Thursday. The Jets went 2-for-4 with the man advantage Wednesday after failing to score with the extra man (0-for-17) in its first four contests.
"The ability to get two power play goals is a good step for us," said Scheifele. "It's important to take every game and learn something from it and to learn from the other players."
Losing their first three games, including giving up a two-goal lead to Chicago, set up for a sweet first victory against the Penguins on Monday. Although the Jets wasted another two-goal lead in Toronto, head coach Claude Noel sees signs of progress.
"Winning's a process and it takes time," Noel said. "We've got to learn how to win and we've got to do it together … But we are what we are and as long as we give 100 per cent effort, that's all I can ask for."
His goalie Pavelec, who turned away 29 Leafs shots, is already looking ahead.
"We got the single point, and tomorrow's another day, another game."
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With files from The Canadian Press