The Toronto Maple Leafs suffer a heart-breaking loss when Winnipeg multi-positional Dustin Byfuglien netted the overtime winner 2:44 into the extra period. The overtime loss at the hands of the Jets comes after the Toronto Maple leafs scored three unanswered goals in an attempted comeback. The towering six-foot-five Byfuglien took a pass from Winnipeg Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd and fired a wrist shot over Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier’s glove for his twelfth goal of the season. The loss is the Maple Leafs second in a row.
The Jets were up 2-0 after twenty minutes thanks to goals from rookie Mark Scheifele and forward Blake Wheeler. Toronto was able to make it close when captain Dion Phaneuf opened up the second period scoring with a powerplay goal at 6:13. It did not take long for the Jets to respond however as Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian grabbed their seventeenth and second goals of the season within forty seconds of each other. Toronto pulled starting goaltender James Reimer in favor of Bernier after the two quick goals. Perhaps it was the switch that caused a surge as the rally began soon thereafter when the Leafs refused to go down quietly. Coming one minute and one second after Bogosian put the Jets up 4-1, Toronto right winger Troy Bodie scored his 2nd of the season to get the ball rolling for the Leafs’ comeback. Maple Leaf defensemen Tim Gleason would then net his first of the season at 16:44 into the second to put Toronto within striking range going into the final twenty minutes.
Winnipeg was able to hold onto their one goal lead for nearly the entirety of the third period before Toronto’s Phil Kessel tied things up. The forward grabbed his twenty-seventh goal of the season with only 1:33 remaining on the clock. Although it was all for naught as the Leafs lost just under halfway through the overtime period when Byfuglien fired the winner into the net. The Toronto Maple Leafs were on a six game winning streak prior to this overtime loss to the Jets.
The Jets are now 5-1 under new head coach Paul Maurice. Maurice took over for Claude Noel on January 12th and ever since, Winnipeg has played like a new team. Though they very nearly gave up a three goal lead, Maurice does not feel that the Maple Leafs were all over them. The coach noted that Toronto have some very talented players and had a few flurries but his team had just as many opportunities and were not outplayed despite what the score progression might suggest.
The Toronto Maple Leafs currently sit forth in the eastern conference standings with sixty points. The Leafs trail the Boston Bruins by seven points for the division lead and are fourteen points away from the Penguins at the top of the conference. Although Toronto’s in a good position, the Winnipeg Jets have a far tougher time in the much more competitive western conference. As of tonight’s decision, Winnipeg sits four spots out of a playoff spot as they trail the Vancouver Canucks by eight points for eighth place. However, Toronto themselves would sit in ninth place if they were in the West with the Jets. Not that this is anything new for the western conference. Toronto Maple Leafs overtime loss to the Jets is their sixth of the season coming in the extra time and one they will look to overcome Tuesday when they face-off against the Tampa Bay Lighting back at home at Air Canada Centre.
By: Benjamin Murray