The New Year’s Eve Classic was an exciting one with a happy ending for the Jets and their fans as they took two points from the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 3-2 to improve their December record to 10-3-1.
Keith Aulie opened the scoring for the Leafs in the first period but the Jets responded early in the second with Zach Bogosian and Andrew Ladd tallying goals for the home squad.
Phil Kessel tied the game a minute and a half after Ladd’s goal but the low rankings of the Leafs penalty kill came back to haunt them as Blake Wheeler put the Jets back on top on the power play midway through the second period.
The Leafs battled hard in the third period but were unable to solve the strong goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec.
The Jets will enjoy New Year’s Day off before they head on the road for a four-game road trip starting in Montreal on January 4th, 2012. That game starts at 6:30 pm.
Toronto's Keith Aulie took the game's first penalty of the game 3:28 into the first period for hooking. The Jets power play went to work but could not capitalize on the early advantage and the game remained scoreless.
The Jets mustered most of the shots through the first half of the period as they led 10-4 through 13 minutes of play.
Clarke MacArthur got the Leafs on the board first on the power play at 13:59 as Carl Gunnarsson sent a nice cross-ice feed to MacArthur wide open to the right of Pavelec to snap the puck into the net. 1-0 Leafs.
After 20 minutes, the Jets led 15-8 on the shot clock. Another notable in the first period was the Jets face-off success. Tim Stapleton and Patrice Cormier went 5-0 and the team had won 15 of 17 face-offs (88%).
The middle frame started off on the right foot for the Jets as Zach Bogosian tied the game on a one-timer at 2:51. Wheeler passed the puck up to Toby Enstrom on the right point who set up Bogosian on the left point with the one-timer that flew through traffic and over the shoulder of James Reimer. 1-1.
Andrew Ladd gave the Jets their first lead of the game from Johnny Oduya and Kyle Wellwood at 5:26. Oduya got the puck down low to the right of Reimer. Wellwood looked around and saw a hovering Ladd in front and a wide-open left side of the net. Wellwood put the puck on Ladd's stick and he tapped it home to make it 2-1.
Phil Kessel picked up his 21st of the season at 7:07 to tie up the game 2-2. Joffrey Lupul dug a loose puck out from around the crease area and sent a nifty pass over to Kessel to the right of Pavelec. Kessel made no mistake putting the puck into the open net. Dion Phaneuf picked up his second helper on the night.
The Leafs are ranked last in the league on the penalty kill and the Jets made sure to remind them of that. Wheeler made the Leafs pay on the power play as he regained the lead four minutes after Kessel's goal. Ron Hainsey blasted a slapshot from the point through traffic that just got a piece of Wheeler standing just outside the blue paint. Antti Mettinen picked up the second assist, his first point as a Jet.
After two periods in the books, the Jets led 3-2 on the scoreboard and 28-12 in shots.
The Leafs turned up the heat a bit in the third period putting pressure on the Jets trying to tie the game. They were given one power play with Ladd getting the gate for slashing just 1:26 into the period but couldn't come up with a goal on the opportunity.
The Jets pushed back as the period went along and thanks to the strong goaltending from Pavelec, the home team held their lead all the way to the buzzer to take the 3-2 final.