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game recap

Maple Leafs sweep Jets, extend lead in North Division

Thornton oldest player to score for Toronto; Scheifele benched for Winnipeg

by Darrin Bauming / Independent Correspondent

Thornton's wraparound goal

TOR@WPG: Thornton sets franchise mark with wraparound

Joe Thornton becomes the oldest player in Maple Leafs history to score a goal after burying a wraparound to tie the game 1-1 in the 1st

  • 00:46 •

WINNIPEG -- The Toronto Maple Leafs extended their lead in the Scotia North Division with a 4-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Saturday.

Toronto leads second-place Winnipeg by eight points after sweeping the two game-set here, winning 5-3 on Thursday. The top four teams in the seven-team division qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Jack Campbell made 25 saves for the Maple Leafs (30-13-5), who scored four consecutive goals and are 6-3-0 against the Jets this season.

"I really thought we got better even from the other night," Toronto captain John Tavares said. "As a group, it was hard-fought and the things we looked to do to get better, I thought we did a good job. We stayed composed and patient and just competed. Trusted our game and obviously tried to take control. Not a great start, but I thought we controlled a lot of the game, which is really good by our group."

Video: TOR@WPG: Nylander, Tavares combine for goal in 2nd

Nikolaj Ehlers scored, and Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves for the Jets (27-17-3), who have lost four of their past six games. They lost a third straight game for the first time this season.

"We've been a pretty resilient group," Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler said. "We've bounced back from adversity all year. … We want to be a physical, forechecking team. Play north-south. It's always part of our game plan, so I don't think it was any different tonight."

Ehlers' one-timer off Paul Stastny's centering pass 39 seconds into the first period gave the Jets a 1-0 lead.

Joe Thornton tied it 1-1 on a wraparound at 4:04. Mitchell Marner made it 2-1 at 11:40, scoring into an open net after Hellebuyck went behind the goal to play a dump-in that took a strange bounce off a stanchion.

"[Thornton] kind of brought that fire tonight," Campbell said. "He wants to win so bad, and when you see a guy like Joe [giving an effort] like that, it just makes you want to do your job even more."

Video: TOR@WPG: Marner capitalizes on weird play in the 1st

Tavares pushed the Toronto lead to 3-1 at 7:07 of the second period when he scored off a William Nylander pass on a 2-on-1, extending his point streak to eight games (five goals, seven assists).

"That's their playoff game," Hellebuyck said. "Now we know what we're going to see in the playoffs if we run into them. We didn't have very good luck; off the stanchion, that's not great. Third one, I lost an edge. That's pretty routine movement for me, and I was right on it. Two game-changing goals, but it is what it is."

Alexander Kerfoot scored into an empty net with 1:30 remaining in the third period for the 4-1 final.

Jets forward Mark Scheifele was benched for 16:59 bridging the second and third periods.

"We have some things that we value as a group," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "Mark's a real competitive guy. Sometimes that gets the best of him I think. We just need to adhere to our core values."

Hellebuyck said of the benching, "It's a message that no one's safe. For me, when you see that, you want to play hard for [Scheifele]. You want to play harder for him and pick him up.

"This is going to be a big character build for us as team. You never know how much adversity you go through, and we seem to keep going through little spurts of adversity. Hopefully we come back from this stronger. We have the character to do that, and it's time for us to learn and prove it."

NOTES: Thornton (41 years and 296 days) became the oldest Maple Leafs player to score a goal, surpassing Allan Stanley (41 years and 252 days), who scored at the Oakland Seals on Nov. 8, 1967. … Marner scored his 100th NHL regular-season goal in his 348th game.

Video: Maple Leafs score four straight in 4-1 win vs. Jets

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