Wheeler scores twice as Winnipeg Jets hand Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 loss

 

 
 
 
 
Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) checks Toronto Maple Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson (36) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
 

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) checks Toronto Maple Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson (36) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

Photograph by: Trevor Hagan, THE CANADIAN PRESS

WINNIPEG -- Blake Wheeler scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane also scored for the Jets (13-11-2), who have won three of their past four games. Dustin Byfuglien had three assists and Antropov had two.

Phil Kessel scored both goals for Toronto (15-11-1), which is winless in three straight.

The Jets outhustled and outmuscled the Leafs while getting solid goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec with 24 saves.

The last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference also was again in sight for the Jets as they sit tied with the New York Rangers at 28 points apiece, following the Rangers 3-1 loss to Buffalo Tuesday night.

It was a chippy game right from the first faceoff at the MTS Centre.

Even the two captains got into the act, as Dion Phaneuf went after Andrew Ladd after the Maple Leaf defenceman was tripped and sent sliding into the boards behind the net.

The Jets penalty kill was solid and they even survived a 5-on-3, thanks to some great play from defenceman Zack Bogosian and Pavelec.

Winnipeg drew first blood when Byfluglien's slapshot from the blue-line glanced off Antropov and past Toronto netminder James Reimer on the first power play of the game.

The Leafs tied things up just 38 seconds into the second when Kessel came in unassisted and slid one under Pavelec's pads.

But the cheers of local Leafs fans -- there are more than a few in Winnipeg -- were stopped less than 30 seconds later when the Jets picked up their second as Wheeler slammed home Bryan Little's rebound.

Wellwood made it 3-1 midway through the second and Winnipeg stretched its advantage in the third as Kane stole the puck near the red line and slipped between two players to beat Reimer 1-on-1.

Remier, who is from Manitoba, was then pulled and replaced by Ben Scrivens. But less than a minute later Wheeler swooped in front of the net and slid one in to make it 5-1.

Kessel scored just 21 seconds after Wheeler.

The win for Winnipeg evened its series with the Leafs this season. The decider is set for Saturday in Toronto.

Notes: Jets captain Andrew Ladd started Tuesday as one of only five players in the NHL who haven't gone consecutive games without scoring a point. ... Chris Thorburn marked his return to the Jets' lineup by going at it with Toronto's Colton Orr less than three minutes into the game.

 
 
 
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Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) checks Toronto Maple Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson (36) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
 

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien (33) checks Toronto Maple Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson (36) during second period NHL hockey action in Winnipeg, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

Photograph by: Trevor Hagan, THE CANADIAN PRESS

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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