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Maple Leafs 3, Jets 2

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Phil Kessel scored his first goal of the season late in the third period to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

Just seconds after the Jets' Alexei Ponikarovsky went to the penalty box for holding, Kessel ripped a shot over the shoulder of goalie Ondrej Pavelec with just 4:08 left in the third period to break a 2-2 tie.

Matt Frattin had notched the tying goal less than a minute before Kessel scored.

Tyler Bozek scored shorthanded for the Leafs in the second period.

The Jets got goals from blueliners Zach Redmond and Andrew Ladd.

Toronto raised its record to 6-5-0, while Winnipeg fell to 4-5-1.

The Jets cranked up the energy early in the first period, directing plenty of pucks toward Toronto goalie James Reimer and hitting a pair of posts. But the hosts came up empty and the clubs were tied 0-0 after 20 minutes.

The period featured two 'concealing the puck' penalties, one assessed to Jets forward Evander Kane and the other to Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk just a minute later. The league is cracking down on players who fall to the ice and then use their hands to shield the puck, although Kane and van Riemsdyk both looked bewildered after the marginal infractions.

Redmond, playing just the fourth game of his career, made a brilliant play to give the Jets a 1-0 lead early in the second. With his club shorthanded, the native of Houston joined Bryan Little on a 2-on-1 rush, corralled a pass and rifled a shot over the shoulder of Reimer for his first NHL goal.

But the Leafs evened the score 1-1 just a few minutes later with a shorthanded goal of their own as Bozak stripped blueliner Paul Postma of the puck and raced down the ice to beat goalie Pavelec on a breakaway. The goal was Bozek's third of the season.

Ladd's goal just 3:46 into third period gave the Jets a 2-1 lead, but Toronto kept battling and eventually got goals from Frattin and Kessel in the final minutes.

Winnipeg outshot Toronto 25-18.

The Jets' blueline corps has amassed 34 points this year to lead the league. Tobias Enstrom chipped in an assist on Redmond's second-period marker and now has 13 points to lead all NHL defensemen.

NOTES: The game marked the return of Toronto coach and former Jets defenseman Randy Carlyle to Winnipeg, and he was greeted by a standing ovation from fans at MTS Centre midway through the first period. Carlyle played parts of 10 seasons with Winnipeg before retiring in 1993. He was also a coach and GM with the Manitoba Moose when the city got a minor-league team after the Jets left for Phoenix in 1996. ... Three members of the Leafs also enjoyed homecomings. Forwards Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren hail from Winnipeg, while goalie James Reimer is from Morweena, about 90 minutes north of the Manitoba capital. McLaren got into a first-period scrap and was left bloodied by Jets tough guy Chris Thorburn. ... Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien didn't dress for the fourth straight game for Winnipeg because of an undisclosed injury. Fellow defenseman Zach Bogosian, who has been recovering from wrist surgery since August, took the game-day skate and could return to the lineup next week. ... Coming into the game, James van Riemsdyk had scored six goals in his first 10 games with the Leafs since coming over from Philadelphia in a trade last June. That's as many as he scored in his final 37 games with the Flyers during an injury-plagued 2011-12 campaign. ... Jets' defenseman Tobias Enstrom came into the game leading all NHL defensemen with 12 points. ... The Jets head to Ottawa for a Saturday afternoon game against the Senators before returning home for three games next week against the Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. ... The Leafs play the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday night and then host the Flyers on Monday.

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