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Tempers flare as Maple Leafs drop 6-3 decision in Winnipeg

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The Winnipeg Jets dropped the Toronto Maple Leafs by a 6-3 score Sunday, a second straight win for the Jets. The Maple Leafs are now winless in two.

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler, playing in his 1,000th career NHL game, earned a pair of assists for the Jets.

Pierre-Luc Dubois opened the scoring for Winnipeg at 4:05 the first period. On the Jets’ first shot of the game, he took a pass from Blake Wheeler and cut across the front of the net, catching Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll moving in the other direction with the pass. It was Dubois’ 12th goal of the season.

Michael Bunting evened the score at 16:08 of the first period. On the power play, Pierre Engvall corralled a puck behind the net and found Bunting in the slot for a quick shot past Hellebuyck.

The Wheels Come Off

Andrew Copp gave the Jets a 2-1 lead, scoring his seventh goal of the season at 1:51 of the second period. He took a stretch pass from Neal Pionk, catching the Maple Leafs on a bad line change. Copp slipped between Jake Muzzin and Rasmus Sandin. Copp outmuscled Sandin on the way to the net before putting it between Toronto goaltender Joseph Woll’s legs.

At 4:54 of the second period, Evgeny Svechnikov scored his second goal of the season. David Kampf and T.J. Brodie battled to keep the puck in at the Jets blueline, but a block sent the Jets away on a two-on-one. Dominic Toninato fed Svechnikov and he sniped it stick side past Woll.

Kyle Connor scored his team-leading 15th goal at 7:38 of the second period. On the power play, Connor received a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois who was coming from behind the Maple Leafs net. Connor fired a wrist shot over Woll’s shoulder on the short side.

At 10:45 of the second, Nikolaj Ehlers buried his ninth goal of the season, working a give and go with Andrew Copp that resulted in Ehlers blasting a one-timer past Holl from the right faceoff circle. Ehlers has nine goals on the season.

Getting Back Into It

At 5-1 barely past the midpoint of the game, it was looking bleak for the Maple Leafs.

Jets wingers Dominic Toninato and Blake Wheeler took a couple of penalties and the Maple Leafs scored once during the second period 5-on-3. Auston Matthews scored at 14:20 of the second period, rifling a wrist shot that beat Hellebuyck over the glove.

At 15:46 of the second period, Ondrej Kase caught Hellebuyck off the post and banked it off the Jets netminder to score on the short side. Suddenly, the Leafs were back in the game, down 5-3 with more than a period remaining.

The Game Gets Heated

Rasmus Sandin limped to the Toronto bench six minutes into the third period after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Jets defenceman Neal Pionk. Tempers flared almost immediately. Before Pionk’s shift was over, he got run by Jason Spezza. Then the Maple Leafs sent Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds out for the next faceoff. That led to Simmonds taking a cross-checking penalty and a 10-minute misconduct in his search for a dance partner.

The Jets used that power play to spring Mark Scheifele. He was stronger on the puck than Alexander Kerfoot, on his way through the middle of the Leafs zone before burying it stick side past Woll at 8:14 of the third period. It was Scheifele’s sixth goal of the season and fourth in the past two games.

Before the game ended, Maple Leafs winger Kyle Clifford tangled with Winnipeg Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon at 13:51 of the third period. Something along these lines was inevitable.

Wayne Simmonds was looking for more when he finally came out of the penalty box. He and towering Jets defenceman Logan Stanley nearly got into it in the midst of a crowd late in the third period.

The Numbers

Kyle Connor, Andrew Copp, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist for the Jets. Wheeler, Neal Pionk, and Nate Schmidt each had a pair of assists.

Joseph Woll allowed six goals on 41 shots in the Toronto net. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 32 of 35 shots for Winnipeg.

The Maple Leafs are now 17-7-2, in second place in the Atlantic Division. At 12-8-4, the Jets vault into a tie for second place in the Central Division.

Toronto will return home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday.

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