A game fitting for a captain.
Blake Wheeler had two assists in his 1,000th National Hockey League game, and the Winnipeg Jets offense continued a torrid resurgence with a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Jets power-play found a spark, going three-for-five on the night, while 11 different Winnipeg skaters recorded points in the win.
Wheeler was joined by his wife and children on the ice for a pre-game ceremony that included the traditional silver stick presentation, along with a video tribute that featured Jets alumnus Dustin Byfuglien in a rare post-retirement public appearance.
Winnipeg opened the scoring four minutes into the game, when Pierre-Luc Dubois took a pass from Wheeler and beat outstretched Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll.
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The Leafs would answer with a Michael Bunting goal before the horn sounded at the end of the first period.
Much like they did during Friday night’s win over New Jersey, Winnipeg’s offense took over with a dominant stretch of four unanswered goals from three separate lines early in the second period.
Toronto cut the four-goal lead in half thanks to markers from Ondrej Kase and Auston Matthews before the second intermission.
Mark Scheifele would provide the only goal in a penalty-filled third period to secure the outcome.’
Toronto lost defenseman Rasmus Sandin to an apparent lower-body injury after colliding with Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk in the third period.
Connor Hellebuyck earned his ninth win of the season, stopping 32 of 35 shots.
Woll allowed 6 goals on 41 shots for a .854 save percentage.
Winnipeg (12-8-4, 28 points) vaulted from fifth to second in the Central Division standings with the win, though they have played more games than the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche, who both trail by just a few points.
Toronto (17-7-2, 36 points) remains in second place in the Atlantic Division, two points up on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have played two fewer games.
The win also wrapped up a banner day for Winnipeg sports fans – as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers advanced to the Grey Cup earlier that day with a 21-17 victory against Saskatchewan.
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The Jets will finish a four-game homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Toronto is back at home Tuesday to host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The two teams will meet for the second and final time this season on March 31 at Scotiabank Arena.
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