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Late Goal Sinks Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO - Sitting in the penalty box for the second time Wednesday night, Alexander Burmistrov worried that he had cost the Winnipeg Jets the game. He dreamed he'd have the chance to make up for his mistake.

Eight seconds after he stepped back onto the ice, Burmistrov did just that, scoring the game-winning goal as the Jets beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 at Air Canada Centre.

"That's a perfect example of the dog house to the penthouse," coach Paul Maurice said. "That is classic. Those are tough penalties to take. It's a big goal for him because he's wanted to produce."

It was retribution for the Russian forward and also his teammates, who vowed to respond after getting embarrassed days earlier in Montreal. The Jets (8-4-1) got the kind of effort they wanted in their chance to bounce back, even if it wasn't a masterpiece.

The Leafs (2-8-2) led in shots and sustained offensive-zone time for the first two periods, but Winnipeg turned up the pressure in the third. The result was a victory players felt they could build on going into Ottawa to face the Senators on Thursday night.

"We knew it wasn't going to be pretty," said winger Blake Wheeler, who assisted on Burmistrov's game-winner. "It wasn't going to be one of those games where you feel great about it after the game, but it's just whatever it takes to get a win. I was proud of the way we responded like that."

The Jets were out-classed Sunday in a 5-1 loss to the Canadiens, so this game was about trying to put that in the rear-view mirror. An early goal by Dustin Byfuglien was a good sign, and so was Mark Scheifle's that restored the lead only 37 seconds after Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau tied the score for Toronto.

After giving up the tying goal to Leo Komarov in the second period, Winnipeg clamped down. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced, sensed a better-prepared group than on Sunday.

"I think we were ready to play from the start," Pavelec said. "I think the effort was way better, and I think we deserve two points."

Maurice felt Burmistrov deserved a goal the way he had been excelling in a more defensive role since returning to the Jets after a year in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. Burmistrov's confidence had sagged early in this season, and he had perhaps found a new low in the final minutes hoping his teammates could kill off his penalty.

The relief was plastered all over his face when he scored off a give-and-go with Wheeler with 2:05 left.

"Oh, I can't even explain how big it is for me," Burmistrov said. "It's been tough for me since I came back, learning this game back. Just a great feeling right now, we win the game and we scored that big goal."

The Leafs were left to lament a tough loss, but coach Mike Babcock was pleased with how his team fared, despite some miscues.

"Lots of good things happened for our hockey club," Babcock said. "I liked our group tonight. We were competitive, we looked organized."

Goaltender James Reimer made 30 saves in his second straight start, one the Leafs thought they could win.

"Got to give them credit, they were coming, but we had our looks, we had our power plays," centre Nazem Kadri said. "It was a 2-2 game and then bad break, guy coming out of the box, he gets it right on his tape, that's a tough one to swallow."

Notes - Bryan Little scored an empty-net goal with 26 seconds left... The Jets placed centre Andrew Copp on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and recalled centre Patrice Cormier, who was scratched... Antoine Bibeau backed up Reimer as Jonathan Bernier is out with a lower-body injury... Canadian speedskaters Marianne St-Gelais, Patrick Duffy and Charles Hamelin were in attendance to promote an upcoming World Cup event in Toronto. 

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