The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame a 4-1 deficit, but it wasn’t enough as they were defeated 5-4 by the Winnipeg Jets in a shootout Saturday night. With the win the Jets pulled into a tie with the Leafs at 32 points, but they overtook Carolina for the Southeast lead to find themselves in third spot in the East.
Toronto had an awful first 18 minutes of the second period where Winnipeg jumped all over them for four goals. The Leafs had no energy and were fortunate enough to battle back to at least salvage a point out of this one. When this week began the Leafs were thinking they could gain some separation from the Jets in the standings, but losing two to Winnipeg has now put them right back in the thick of the playoff race.
Here are a few things that stood out from the game.
Joffrey Lupul’s return
Lupul appeared to have no rust after missing 25 games with a broken forearm. He notched two goals, had five shots, and threw six hits. Lupul really seemed to spark the Leaf offense, especially late in the second period after they fell behind 4-1. It looked to give Toronto a little more balance and now all of a sudden they have three lines that can score.
Cody Franson looking sharp
Franson’s game was strong tonight and he is looking extremely confident with the puck. He finished as a plus-1, while adding four shots on net and delivering six hits. The thing that is most impressive about Franson is his passing ability. He seems to be really patient from the point and finds a way to get his shots through, or makes an intelligent pass to setup someone at the side of the net. It would be nice to see him get a little more power play time.
Carl Gunnarsson seems off
Gunnarsson has been dealing with nagging hip/groin issues all year and just doesn’t look right. He had a handful of giveaways in this one, including a few all on one shift and looks tentative with his decision making. There was an instance late in the third where he could have easily kept the puck in, but hesitated for just a second and the Jets were able to clear the zone.
It took 10 shots each for this one to be settled and you could hardly fault James Reimer for the result. The Leafs goaltender made eight straight stops to give his team a chance to take the lead, however, Toronto hit several posts and couldn’t beat Ondrej Pavelec. For some unknown reason Randy Carlyle opted not to let Mikhail Grabovski shoot. I’m not sure what he was waiting for as these bonus points are extremely important this season with the all conference schedule.