Jets 5, Maple Leafs 2

Associated Press | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - The Winnipeg Jets were expecting Toronto to come in and try to push them around. They decided to push back.

Blake Wheeler scored twice as the Jets outhustled and outmuscled the Maple Leafs 5-2 Tuesday night, making a playoff spot look more plausible in the process.

"They've taken more of a blue-collar approach," Wheeler said of the 2013 Leafs. "I think they've been physical with teams and it's been something they've been successful with this year. We were expecting that. ... We wanted to match them."

Match them they did, right down the line, agreed Jets coach Claude Noel.

"I thought that we had a lot of emotion in the game," he said.

"I thought we had a lot of good games tonight from a lot of players. I thought guys played hard and weren't going to be denied."

Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane also scored for the Jets, 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, which is winless in three straight.

Noel had high praise in particular for captain Andrew Ladd for setting the tone, even getting into a scrap with Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf in the first period.

"It wasn't the greatest fight. Probably like a grade 7 dance," Ladd said with a grin after the game.

The Jets all agreed killing a 5-on-3 penalty in the second period was a huge factor in the win.

"I think the 5-on-3 was the turning point of the game," Wheeler said.

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec was solid but he said he got a lot of help from his teammates. Zach Bogosian got in the way of almost every decent shot the Leafs managed for two minutes.

"Shortly after that we scored a goal to make it 3-1 and that sort of elevated the emotion in the building," Noel said.

Leafs' coach Randy Carlyle wasn't saying much after the loss.

"The emotions are high," he said, appearing anxious to get away. "We'll regroup and reset our group and go forward."

Leafs' netminder James Reimer was pulled late in the third after most of the damage had been done. He said Toronto will bounce back.

"We believe in each other," he said. "Obviously tough times come and we know we're not playing our best right now but, honestly, maybe that's the best thing.

"If we were playing our best and still losing then you know we'd be in trouble. All we have to do is get back to, you know, what we do well and we'll be fine."

Eighth place in the Eastern Conference is again in sight for the Jets, who were tied with New York at 28 points apiece after the Rangers' 3-1 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday night.

Toronto dropped into sixth in the East, tied with Ottawa with 31 points.

Winnipeg drew first blood Tuesday when Byfuglien's slap shot from the blue-line glanced off Antropov and past 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 were quieted 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 when Kane stole the puck near the red line and slipped between two players to beat Reimer 1-on-1.

Reimer was 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 the final goal of the game just 21 seconds later.

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

NOTES: Ladd continued his streak 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.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
06:06WPG PPG - Nik Antropov (2) ASST: Dustin Byfuglien (8), Kyle Wellwood (3) 1 - 0 WPG
2nd Period
00:38TOR Phil Kessel (8) ASST: NONE 1 - 1 Tie
01:03WPG Blake Wheeler (9) ASST: Bryan Little (12), Andrew Ladd (12) 2 - 1 WPG
10:43WPG Kyle Wellwood (2) ASST: Dustin Byfuglien (9), Nik Antropov (9) 3 - 1 WPG
3rd Period
11:16WPG Evander Kane (11) ASST: Nik Antropov (10) 4 - 1 WPG
12:53WPG Blake Wheeler (10) ASST: Eric Tangradi (1), Dustin Byfuglien (10) 5 - 1 WPG
13:14TOR Phil Kessel (9) ASST: Korbinian Holzer (1), James van Riemsdyk (7) 5 - 2 WPG
Three Stars of the Game
Nik Antropov
Nik Antropov
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 2Hits: 1
PTS: 3PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 16:21
Blake Wheeler
Blake Wheeler
G: 2Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 17:27
Evander Kane
Evander Kane
G: 1Shots: 7
A: 0Hits: 3
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 20:12
Penalty Summary
1st Period
02:46WPG Chris Thorburn  Fighting (maj) against  Colton Orr
02:46TOR Colton Orr  Fighting (maj) against  Chris Thorburn
05:22TOR Mark Fraser  Interference against  Eric Tangradi
11:23WPG Andrew Ladd  Fighting (maj) against  Dion Phaneuf
11:23TOR Dion Phaneuf  Roughing against  Andrew Ladd
11:23TOR Dion Phaneuf  Fighting (maj) against  Andrew Ladd
15:15WPG Derek Meech  Tripping against  Nazem Kadri
17:25WPG Grant Clitsome  Roughing against  Phil Kessel
17:25TOR Phil Kessel  Slashing against  Grant Clitsome
2nd Period
05:42WPG Nik Antropov  Slashing against  Nazem Kadri
05:48WPG Mark Stuart  Boarding against  Clarke MacArthur
08:05TOR Nazem Kadri  Roughing against  Dustin Byfuglien
08:05WPG Dustin Byfuglien  Roughing against  Nazem Kadri
12:06TOR Colton Orr  Roughing against  James Wright
3rd Period
19:32TOR Frazer McLaren  Slashing against  Ron Hainsey
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays0/31/4
Faceoff Wins2833
Blocked Shots2312
Penalty Minutes2220
3D. PhaneufD0023722:35
4C. FransonD00-13019:17
11J. McClementC0002013:13
16C. MacArthurL00-11012:52
21J. van RiemsdykL0112020:15
28C. OrrR000178:41
36C. GunnarssonD00-12022:06
38F. McLarenL000028:57
39M. FrattinR00-31012:40
41N. KuleminL00-11012:42
42T. BozakC0001020:57
43N. KadriC00-11214:48
45M. FraserD00-21216:40
47L. KomarovC0000012:47
53M. KostkaD00-23021:34
55K. HolzerD0100017:48
81P. KesselR2003220:33
84M. GrabovskiC00-11012:23
30B. Scrivens56.8338:44
34J. Reimer2428.85751:16
5M. StuartD0020214:51
6R. HainseyD0002020:57
7D. MeechD0020214:05
9E. KaneL1007020:12
12O. JokinenC00-11018:13
13K. WellwoodC1111016:08
16A. LaddL0113515:26
17J. WrightC0003014:31
18B. LittleC0112016:37
19J. SlaterC0000011:04
20A. MiettinenR0000013:17
22C. ThorburnR000054:58
24G. ClitsomeD0002220:49
26B. WheelerR2013017:27
27E. TangradiL010007:43
33D. ByfuglienD0315225:38
44Z. BogosianD0002021:43
80N. AntropovC1223216:21
31O. Pavelec2426.92360:00