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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Jets - 02/21/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-4 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Komarov gives Leafs early lead

WPG@TOR: Komarov sneaks opening goal past Hellebuyck

Leo Komarov gets to the boards and throws the puck on net, beating Connor Hellebuyck from a sharp angle to give the Maple Leafs an early lead

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1. Leafs score first on Komarov's goal, but Jets net next two to take lead into first intermission. Toronto had a strong opening period with 15 shots on net (to the Jets' 8) and got on the scoresheet first just 1:02 into the contest on a bad-angle goal from winger Leo Komarov (with his ninth of the season), but Winnipeg evened the score 3:13 later via winger Patrik Laine's 29th marker of the year. 

The visitors then took a 2-1 lead at 10:33 of the first on centre Bryan Little's 17th of the season, and the Jets had what they believed was their third goal of the period disallowed after officials ruled a high stick had tipped it past goalie Frederik Andersen. While the Leafs outshot Winnipeg, there weren't an abundance of high-quality scoring chances on netminder Connor Hellebuyck, and the Jets made the most of the opportunities they had.

Video: WPG@TOR: Kadri cuts to net, lifts in slick backhand

2. Kadri pulls Leafs even in middle frame after stellar setup by Leivo, but Ehlers regains advantage for Winnipeg. Once again, the Jets were outshot by Toronto in the second period - this time, by a 12-7 total - and although centre Nazem Kadri tied things up at 15:52 of the middle frame, the Leafs quickly allowed Winnipeg to re-establish the lead 92 seconds later when winger Nik Ehlers deflected a Josh Morrissey shot into their net. 

The positive part of this sequence from Toronto's perspective was not only Kadri's 25th goal of the year, but the fantastic feed from winger Josh Leivo that set him up for the scoring play. The assist was Leivo's seventh of the season and his seventh point in his past five games, and helped him continue to make a case to receive more chances from head coach Mike Babcock as the game and season unfolds.

Video: WPG@TOR: Komarov fires in PPG for second of game

3. Komarov's second of the night draws Buds even again, but Laine scores his second of the game just before second intermission to put Jets back in front. The Leafs never are easily deterred by an opponent scoring, and such was the case after Ehlers' marker: on their third power play of the game, winger William Nylander showed patience and vision with the puck and found Komarov streaking toward the net, and the veteran made no mistake to score his second of the game with 32 seconds left before the second intermission to make it 3-3.

However, the Leafs' defensive zone coverage did not close the door on Winnipeg before the period ended, and as two Buds defenders zoned in on Jets blueliner Dustin Byfuglien to the side of Andersen's net, Laine fired a loose puck past the Toronto goaltender with 2.3 seconds left in the second to re-establish the lead for the visitors. Toronto's resilience in the face of a letdown is always admirable, but there are too many letdowns in their own zone at the moment for the offence to overcome.

Video: WPG@TOR: Nylander buries rebound off boards for PPG

4. Nylander connects on power play to tie the score at four apiece early in third. With Byfuglien in the penalty box for a five-minute stretch following the melee at the end of the second, the Leafs took advantage of another man advantage on two minor penalties to Chris Thorburn and Mark Scheifele at 1:52 of the third: centre Auston Matthews fired a shot that went behind Hellebuyck's net and ricocheted directly to Nylander, who immediately knocked it in the net for his second point of the game and 17th goal of the season at the 3:30 mark.

The assist was Matthews' second of the night, and his 51st point of the year. It also was the second power play marker in four chances for Toronto's NHL-best power play unit, and gave the Buds a shot at pulling out a win in what turned out to be a wild and emotional game.

Video: WPG@TOR: Gardiner shows patience, snaps in OT winner

5. Extra time needed, but Leafs kill off big penalty at end of third and start of overtime before Gardiner gets game-winner. The Leafs fought back three times to tie the game late in the third, but they had a little more fighting to do before winning their second straight game: specifically, they had to fight off a Jets power play for the last 25 seconds of regulation time and the first 1:35 of overtime when Matthews was called for hooking.

And, thanks to Andersen slamming the door shut on Winnipeg, Matthews got back on the ice and had the primary assist when he set up blueliner Jake Gardiner on a 2-on-1 with Nylander. Gardiner elected to shoot on Hellebuyck and did not miss, recording his ninth of the season - one goal away from tying his career high mark of 10 - at 2:29 of OT to send Leafs Nation home happy. Matthews finished the game with three helpers, but he also helped Toronto secure a crucial two points as they continue pushing for a post-season berth.

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