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Jets try to get road trip back on track vs. Leafs

Jan 15, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN;  Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk (4) against the Arizona Coyotes during the first period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Winnipeg Jets hope to overcome a shaky start to their five-game road trip on Thursday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Jets opened the season-long trip with a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs battled back to defeat the visiting Florida Panthers 5-4 in overtime Tuesday on William Nylander’s second goal of the game.

The Jets know they must pick up their game at Toronto after a poor performance at Montreal.

“We weren’t skating,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “Our legs weren’t going. Our compete wasn’t good. Our execution was way off. There’s very few games that we’re going to walk out of a rink and say we didn’t deserve to win but that’s certainly one (Tuesday).

“We didn’t deserve to win that game. We were behind them all night and made it very easy for them to play their game. When the compete isn’t there and the legs (are not) there and the execution isn’t there, then you look bad. We looked bad.”

It was the second loss in the past 10 games for the Jets.

“I’m sure the coaches will find some areas we can improve on,” said Jets defenseman Josh Morrisey, who had an assist on Tuesday. “But I don’t think it was necessarily tactical stuff (Tuesday). We sat back and we weren’t on our toes and we didn’t have our skating legs. That’s something that’s easy to fix. We’ll have to be ready to go against a top team here in a couple of days. It’s a big game, always one you shouldn’t have a hard time getting up for, for sure.”

In Toronto, Nylander tied the game in the third period and won it at 1:53 of overtime with a rush and deke around Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who had stopped him on a penalty shot early in the third period.

“I just had some speed and I felt like I could take him wide and was able to sneak it by,” Nylander said.

Nylander’s tying goal came when Mitchell Marner’s deflected shot bounced in off his helmet.

“I haven’t been shooting the puck lately, so it’s nice to get that one in off the head,” Nylander said. “Then I kind of felt better.”

Marner picked up two assists in the game to set a team record with at least one point in 19 consecutive home games.

The Maple Leafs fell behind 4-2 when starting goaltender Matt Murray allowed four goals on eight shots and was removed early in the second period. Ilya Samsonov took over and stopped all 11 shots that he faced.

“I just have to be better,” Murray said. “That’s just the bottom line. If I come up with a couple of those then it’s obviously a much different game.”

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was disappointed with the performance.

“You can’t give up four goals on eight shots, no matter how you shake it out,” Keefe said. “That was really it. You look at the actual goals, I didn’t think any of the goals were too egregious or weak. There was some traffic involved inside each of those goals, but clearly we needed to change something.”

–Field Level Media