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Key Takeaways - Leafs @ Jets - 10/19/2016

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday at MTS Centre

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Leafs jump out to early lead for second consecutive game. After Toronto won its home opener against Boston on the strength of a 3-0 start to the game Saturday, the Leafs went out and looked good early again, taking the first lead of the night on blueliner Connor Carrick's first goal of the season at the 6:46 mark of the first period. The Buds increased that advantage approximately 10 minutes later on Nazem Kadri's first of the year, and finished the period with a 2-0 lead on the host Jets. Toronto had difficulty starting strongly in the pre-season - and indeed, for most of last season - but this appears to be a much different Leafs squad. They're poised and creative with the puck, and no opponent is going to out-skate them when they're at their best. That puts the other side on their heels, and the Leafs have been doing well in capitalizing on ensuing breakdowns early in games.

 

Video: TOR@WPG: Nylander scores PPG off Matthews' feed

2. Nylander - and power play - do major damage for Toronto in middle frame. Leafs forward William Nylander was looking for his first goal of the season and Toronto's power play was looking to record its first goal of the season entering Wednesday's showdown - and in a six-second span of the second frame, Nylander scored a power play marker and set up another to make it 4-0 Leafs at the 6:55 mark.

The first power play goal came at the tail end of a 5-on-3 man advantage, when Nylander took a solid pass from rookie Auston Matthews and beat Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson with a seeing-eye shot; and on the next play, Nylander beat his Jets defender down the ice and tapped the puck out to Kadri for his second goal of the game. That goal deflated the normally-raucous MTS Centre crowd and boosted the confidence of the PP unit, which was 0-for-8 prior to the game, and Nylander, who now has four points on the season.

3. Buds take foot off pedal late in the second, Jets get on the scoreboard. Veteran winger Matt Martin noted Tuesday at Leafs practice that, during the Bruins game Saturday, Toronto began to give their opponent too many opportunities on offence and the Buds wanted to stay in control to a greater degree. That didn't happen after Kadri's second goal, as the Leafs began playing a looser style and Winnipeg began to create sustained pressure on goalie Frederik Andersen. Sure enough, the Jets eventually broke through at the 13:04 mark of the period on defenceman Tyler Myers' first goal of the season, and the score stood at 4-1 after 40 minutes of play. The score still flattered the visiting team, but Toronto head coach Mike Babcock likely wants his team to be far better in dictating the tempo of the contest than they were as the second period unfolded.

4. Jets continue to push in third, but Andersen keeps Leafs in it. The Leafs outshot Winnipeg 15-11 in the second period, but the Jets gained confidence later in the frame and again in the third, when rookie winger Patrik Laine scored just one minute in to cut Toronto's lead to 4-2. Five minutes and five seconds later, centre Mark Scheifele beat Andersen to make it 4-3 in favour of the Buds, and the home team continued to create pressure in the Leafs' zone. Andersen came up big a number of times to keep his team ahead for the grand majority of the period, but after blueliner Morgan Rielly took a penalty with one minute left in regulation time, Laine scored his second of the game with 55 seconds left to send the contest to overtime. Toronto began to find some push-back to their game late in the third, but the Leafs are at their best when they're being wise in their aggressiveness and that wasn't always the case Wednesday.

5. Wild and wooly overtime ends with Laine hat trick. Toronto continued playing a high-risk, high-reward game in overtime, and after Matthews had a couple of terrific chances that Hutchinson stopped, Laine broke in on Andersen and beat him at the 2:40 mark to record his first NHL hat trick and give the Jets the come-from-behind win. Too often after the first period, they took chances that resulted in excellent opportunities for Winnipeg, and eventually, it caught up with them.

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