By Scott Edmonds, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Nazem Kadri finally broke his scoring drought with what turned out to be an important goal.
Kadri’s first of the season stood up as the winner and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 Wednesday.
“We need him to score and he knows that. So it’s good he stuck with it and kept working and now it will start going in,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock.
Kasperi Kapanen, Tyler Ennis and John Tavares also scored for the Leafs (7-3-0), who host Winnipeg Saturday. Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele scored in the third period for the Jets (6-3-1).
Frederik Andersen stopped 38 shots for the win while Connor Hellebuyck made 35 saves in defeat.
“It’s real simple for us,” said Babcock, as the Leafs ended a two-game losing streak. “If you want to play right and you want to play hard, suddenly you look fast again we’ve looked real slow the last two games, We didn’t come out of our own zone.”
Winnipeg wrapped up its six-game homestand 4-1-1 and now hit the road with stops in Detroit Friday, Toronto Saturday and then a long haul across the Atlantic to Helsinki, Finland, for games Nov. 1-2 against the Florida Panthers.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said he wasn’t upset with missed opportunities on Wednesday with 40 shots on net.
“We’re more concerned with our defending than anything else,” he said.
“Anything that we had clean that we could look at, we missed the net 11 times in the second period, and that keeps you from feeling good about your offensive game. It’s more the defensive plays and the turnovers in our end of the ice. If you’re unable to recover from those, you’ve got to look at your problem.
“You’re in the wrong spots or you haven’t shut down hard enough to close out the goals. The first two, for me, we can be a better defensive team than that.”
The Jets also fell behind early against St. Louis on Monday but came from behind for the 5-4 overtime win against the Blues.
“I don’t think it was necessarily as horrible a first two periods as it was against St. Louis,” Adam Lowry said about Wednesday’s start.
“I think you look at the first period we had some great zone time, some good shifts. It’s now just a matter of trying to make that a consistent thing.”
The first period saw wild swings in momentum, but no scoring until Kapanen threaded one through a traffic jam in front of the Winnipeg net at 14:38. The Leafs outshot the Jets 18-14 in the opening 20 minutes.
Ennis made it 2-0 for the Leafs at 2:25 of the second period, when he redirected a point shot from Josh Leivo, then Kadri got a clean look and slipped a wrister past Hellebuyck’s glove to make it 3-0 at 11:43.
The Jets finally got on the board at 4:57 of the third period when Ehlers flipped one past Andersen from just in front of the Toronto net for his first of the season. Then Scheifele one-timed his shot from the point at 6:28 on a power play to draw within one.
But Tavares won a duel in the crease with Winnipeg defenceman Dustin Byfuglien over a loose puck sent in from Mitch Marner and slipped it over the goal line at 8:28 to extend Toronto’s lead to 4-2.
The Jets and Leafs tangle again in Toronto on the weekend and Marner said they need to carry the same style of play on home ice.
“For us it’s just making sure that we slow their big guys down . . . getting out of our zone quick,” he said.
“We want to make sure we’re quick, we’re fast. We haven’t been good on home ice recently. We’ve got to make sure we step it up.”
Notes: Wednesday’s game the first ever NHL game with two Canadian teams carried in the United States by NBC.