Marner contributes 3 points as Maple Leafs Ground Jets in Foligno debut
Mitch Marner scored two goals – including an empty net – on a three-point night as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 on Thursday at Bell MTS Place.
Auston Matthews, Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza scored the other goals for the Maple Leafs, leading the North Division (29-13-5), who were six points ahead of Winnipeg (27-16-3) in the standings.
Mark Scheifele, Andrew Copp and Kyle Connor scored for the Jets, who are one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers. Winnipeg and Edmonton have an ongoing game against Toronto.
The game had a wide-open shine feel at the start with goals on three of the first four shots.
Marner found Matthews with a long cross pass and his wrist shot from the faceoff circle beat Connor Hellebuyck just 27 seconds into the game. It was Matthews’ 34th NHL-lead goal of the season.
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Simmonds suffered a loss 51 seconds later, but Scheifele halved the deficit to 3:19 when he smashed a loose puck in front of Toronto goaltender Jack Campbell.
The Jets then took advantage of poor play from TJ Brodie, who was wide with a return pass to Morgan Rielly in the defensive zone. Mason Appleton used the turnover to slide the puck past Copp, who hit it at 10:26 a.m.
Toronto used a delayed penalty to work the puck for about 30 seconds before Joe Thornton’s shot deflected Spezza and passed a filtered Hellebuyck at 11:59 am The Winnipeg goaltender was called out and replaced by Laurent Brossoit .
Foligno makes Maple Leafs debut
Nick Foligno made his debut for the Maple Leafs on the front row with Marner and Matthews.
Foligno, who had to self-quarantine after being acquired from Columbus in a three-way deal this month, helped build the game that led to Toronto’s fourth goal. Matthews eventually sent a rolling puck to Marner, who beat a stopwatch on Brossoit’s shoulder at 12:58.
Jets captain Blake Wheeler has returned after missing six games with a concussion. He won a low battle at the end of the second period and fed it past Connor, who beat Campbell at 17:56.
Winnipeg nearly tied the game midway through the third period when Derek Forbort sent a lob pass over Justin Holl’s shoulder to Pierre-Luc Dubois, but Campbell turned it down at the mouth of the goal.
Brossoit was shot with about two minutes left in settlement. Connor had two quality wing cars but couldn’t find a hole.
Foligno got his first assist with his new club feeding Marner for the empty net at 19:54.
Winnipeg forward Adam Lowry sustained an upper body injury after being hit by Alex Galchenyuk and did not return.
Winnipeg defeated Toronto 37-33. The Jets and Maple Leafs meet again on Saturday in Winnipeg.