Mitch Marner scored the 100th goal of his NHL career as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 on Saturday night.
John Tavares, Joe Thornton and Alexander Kerfoot, into an empty net, also scored for Toronto (30-13-5). Jack Campbell stopped 25 shots as the Leafs stretched their lead atop the North Division to eight points on the second-place Jets.
Nikolaj Ehlers replied for Winnipeg (28-16-3), which has now lost three straight games for the first time this season. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 33 shots.
Toronto improved to 6-3-0 against the Jets in 2021, including a perfect 4-0-0 record in Winnipeg, and has now won two straight after dropping five in a row (0-3-2).
The home side was without centre Adam Lowry after he took a hit up high from Leafs winger Alex Galchenyuk in Toronto’s 5-3 victory Thursday at Bell MTS Place. Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said before the game Lowry has yet to be diagnosed with a concussion, but was held out of the lineup as a precaution.
After allowing two goals inside the first 1:18 of Thursday’s loss, the Jets opened the scoring 39 seconds into the first period on the game’s first shot when Ehlers took a sweet saucer pass from Paul Stastny off the rush and backhanded his 21st goal of the season past Campbell.
The Leafs responded at 4:04 when Thornton, who had a goal wiped off the ledger Thursday when it was ruled Jason Spezza tipped the 41-year-old’s shot past Hellebuyck, collected a shot off the end boards and scored his fourth to snap a 27-game drought.
Thornton (41 years, 296 days) also became the oldest player in franchise history to score for Toronto, breaking the previous record set by Allan Stanley (41 years, 252 days) on Nov. 8, 1967.
The visitors grabbed the lead at 11:40 when Jake Muzzin’s dump-in off the glass hit one of the stanchions and ricocheted in front to Marner, who was quickest to the loose puck to score his 17th of the campaign and the 100th since entering the league in 2016.
Toronto defenceman Rasmus Sandin then clocked Blake Wheeler — playing in his second game after missing six with a concussion — on a reverse hit late in the period, but the Winnipeg captain returned for the start of the second.
Tavares made it 3-1 with the teams playing 4 on 4 at 7:07 of the middle period when he took a pass from William Nylander on a 2-on-1 and fired his 17th upstairs on Hellebuyck, who allowed three goals on six shots before getting the early hook Thursday, as the Leafs captain extended his point streak to eight games.
Campbell denied Mathieu Perreault on a breakaway later in the period before Hellebuyck robbed Nylander on a Toronto power play before the winger was left looking skyward after chiming the rebound off the crossbar.
The Jets killed two penalties to start the third before they started to press, but Campbell was there to make nice saves on both Stastny and Mark Scheifele, who was benched for the final 14 minutes of the second period following the Tavares goal.
Hellebuyck made a nice stop on a backhand by NHL goal leader Auston Matthews midway through the period to keep his team within striking distance, but the Jets wouldn’t get any closer as Campbell and the Leafs survived a late Winnipeg power play that included a Neal Pionk post before Kerfoot iced it into an empty net.
Notes: The Jets open a two-game series Monday at Bell MTS Place with the third-place Edmonton Oilers, who are a point back with two games in hand, while the Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. … Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott played his 200th NHL game. … The Leafs and Jets wrap up their regular-season schedules May 14 back in Winnipeg.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2021.