- Connor Hellebuyck's teammates got more evidence that the rookie Winnipeg Jets goaltender has a bright future.
Hellebuyck won the showdown of the rookie goalies as he made 32 saves in Winnipeg's 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.
It was the 22-year-old's second NHL game, and followed up a 3-1 victory he recorded against Minnesota on Nov. 27.
"He's calm in the net. He doesn't get scrambly, he doesn't get rattled very easily," said Jets centre Mark Scheifele, who had a goal and two assists. "I think that's a big thing in a young goaltender, that he's able to not crack under that pressure. He's been awesome for us and you know he's going to be a pretty special goalie."
Leafs rookie Garret Sparks was also playing his second pro game and stopped 29 of the 35 shots he faced. He had backstopped Toronto to a 3-0 win over Edmonton on Monday.
Hellebuyck savoured another victory and also praised his counterpart across the ice.
"I think it's awesome," Hellebuyck said. "I think any time young guys get in, they get to kind of show themselves and prove they belong there.
"I think he's a good goalie and I have no doubts that he does belong here."
Hellebuyck was called up from the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose after an injury to veteran Ondrej Pavelec put him on the shelf until at least January. The Jets also have sophomore Michael Hutchinson.
Scheifele's linemate, Drew Stafford, scored twice for Winnipeg (12-12-2), while Jets captain Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Anthony Peluso also scored. Mathieu Perrault picked up a pair of assists.
Michael Grabner had his first goal of the season for Toronto (8-12-5) in his 23rd game.
Grabner scored at 2:02 of the first period and Stafford added his pair to make it 2-1, a lead that held throughout the scoreless second period.
Scheifele recorded his ninth goal of the season, and 100th point of his career, at 1:25 of the third period off a rebound.
Ladd followed up 78 seconds later with a shot over Sparks's shoulder for his seventh of the season at 2:43 to make it 4-1.
"I lost my composure," said Sparks. "I let that third goal get into my head and the fourth one came quickly after that. It's one thing to let in a goal and it's another thing to let it affect you further on in the game.
"One of my best assets I would say is to put things behind me, and for whatever reason I just didn't do that in the third period and I paid for it."
Toronto head coach Mike Babcock said Sparks, who was called up from the AHL's Toronto Marlies, was too hard on himself for the loss.
"He shouldn't have taken ownership," Babcock said. "I thought we were set up really good going into the third period down 2-1. We came out and dominated the first shift of the third and then we made enough mistakes to make the goalie take ownership for no reason.
"He's a kid and we were under siege in the third period and, let's be honest, we weren't good enough. That's the most speed we've let come at us. We didn't slow them down or spend enough time in the (offensive) zone or do enough things to be successful tonight and in the end you get what you deserve."
Toronto visits Minnesota for a game Friday, where it's expected James Reimer will start in net. Winnipeg hosts Washington on Saturday.Notes:
Former Leafs starting goalie Jonathan Bernier was sent to the Marlies on Wednesday for a 10-day conditioning stint. He hadn't pick up a win in nine starts this season (0-8-1).