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Jets fire 48 shots but fall to Maple Leafs

Connor, Scheifele, Laine score in losing cause

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - It wasn't the start to 2020 that the Winnipeg Jets were looking for.

They fell into a 2-0 hole to the Toronto Maple Leafs, erased it, but then quickly had the momentum snatched away and couldn't get it back as they fell 6-3.

The shot clock heavily favoured the Jets, who put up a season-high 48 to Toronto's 28.

"We just made a couple mistakes that cost us a couple goals," said Patrik Laine. "Other than that, we had some really good chances, put up a lot of shots. We could have easily had a couple more. Three wasn't enough tonight."

Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice

Laine, Kyle Connor, and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets (22-16-3) and also combined for 21 shots on goal.

Laine alone had 13 of them - a new career high.

"I think I had a little bit of time to find some open areas. Guys did a good job finding me," said Laine. "(Frederik) Andersen was good. I couldn't get it past him. Only once. You're not going to score if you don't try. I had a lot of chances but couldn't score."

Just 3:34 into the opening period, Adam Brooks intercepted the puck from Connor Hellebuyck below the goal line and quickly fed William Nylander in front. The Maple Leafs forward made no mistake, putting the visitors ahead 1-0.

It was Nylander's seventh goal in his last seven games.

Toronto (23-14-5) made it 2-0 when Luca Sbisa bobbled a puck with Kasperi Kapanen right on him. Kapanen quickly fired a shot through the legs of Hellebuyck to increase the lead nine minutes into the first.

Overall, the two teams tied with 16 giveaways each in the game.

"We forced them into a bunch, they forced us into a bunch. They made more out of what we gave them," said head coach Paul Maurice. "The turnovers you don't like are the mental turnovers - when you're trying to put a puck a place it shouldn't go. Those ones you can show on video and say we can do it. 

"The ones that knuckle off a guy's stick and it's on to somebody else's tape. There's no prescription for that. It doesn't happen very often."

Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler

A delay of game call against Jason Spezza began a wild six-goal second period that started with the Jets' 11th power play goal in the last 11 games.

Scheifele's nifty zone entry resulted in a quick backhand pass to Connor, who used the open space up the right side to move to the face-off dot and fire home his 21st goal of the season. It's was Connor's seventh goal in his last five games.

A little under four minutes later, Laine flew down the right-wing side and when his initial shot was batted away by the stick of Morgan Rielly, he quickly fired the rebound from a sharp angle past Andersen to tie things up.

"That line is just getting better and better. They're playing harder defensively so they're getting more time in the offensive zone," said Maurice. "They're starting to find each other better. He's getting more action now. He's shooting the pucks now that we want him to shoot. Kyle and Mark have been going for a while, it was just a matter of time that those get going for Patrik. He's getting more of those looks."

Toronto took the lead back shortly after though, as Travis Dermott followed up a rush and knocked home a loose puck in the crease. Only 35 seconds after that, Pierre Engvall one-timed a face-off win past Hellebuyck to restore the two-goal advantage.

Still in the second, the Jets killed off a hooking penalty to Nick Shore and moments after he came out of the box, Scheifele whipped home his 19th of the season to once again pull the Jets within one.

Video: POSTGAME | Patrik Laine

But once again, Toronto would get the two-goal lead back with Mitch Marner's 11th of the season - a one-timer on a power play.

That was the end of the night for Hellebuyck, who finished with 12 saves on 17 shots.

"He and I have talked about it over time. At some point, he's going to want to be left in a game that the team is going and he can fight his way through," said Maurice. "He's earned it. That Colorado game, he fought in the net and was a big piece of the win. If it stayed at four he was going back in to start the third."

Toronto added another in the third, Nylander's second of the game, to make it 6-3.

The Jets are now winless in their last five home games and will head out on the road for four games beginning Saturday in Minnesota against the Wild.

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