Gardiner scores OT winner for Leafs
TORONTO — Jake Gardiner scored in overtime Tuesday night as Auston Matthews’ Toronto Maple Leafs prevailed, 5-4, over Patrik Laine’s Winnipeg Jets.
Matthews had three assists in the win and Leo Komarov scored twice for Toronto, which jumped back into control of the National Hockey League’s final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Nazem Kadri also scored for the Maple Leafs, William Nylander posted two points with a goal and Frederik Andersen made 16 saves, yielding four goals to the Jets (28-29-6).
Laine scored twice for Winnipeg, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to record 30 goals in a season. Mark Scheifele chipped in with two assists. Nikolaj Ehlers and Bryan Little also scored.
Connor Hellebuyck gave up five goals on 37 shots.
The first and second picks of the 2016 draft, Matthews and Laine had top billing for their second NHL matchup and they delivered early (and again later).
Komarov opened the scoring 62 seconds into the first when his shot from just above the goal line in the left corner snuck between the pads of Hellebuyck. Then it was Laine. After miscommunication between Leafs in the defensive zone, Scheifele gained control of the puck along the wall and fired it to the weakside where Laine lay in wait. He took the pass and whistled it almost instantaneously into the back of the net for his 29th goal this year.
Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev lingered close to Laine on the play, but not close enough to prevent the 18-year-old rising star’s rapid release.
Matthews had a chance to score a few minutes later, but was unable to stuff a rebound around the right pad of the Jets goaltender.
The outstanding young Leafs rookie later drew an offensive zone penalty on Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien.
Auston Matthews chases a loose puck in the first period against the Winnipeg Jets in Toronto on Tuesday. Matthews had three assists and fellow rookie Patrik Laine of the Jets two goals, as the Leafs won on the scoreboard.