Bryan Little scored the winning goal and the Winnipeg Jets ended the Toronto Maple Leafs’ winning ways with a 2-1 victory Tuesday.
Winnipeg (25-24-6) now has 56 points, winning their first home game after a 2-4 road trip. Home-ice advantage has been one of the few consistent weapons the Jets have found this season.
Toronto (28-20-6) failed to gain any ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Maple Leafs currently hold seventh place in the conference, one point ahead of Ottawa. Toronto had won three games in a row and lost only one in its previous six coming into Winnipeg.
Chris Thorburn also scored for the Jets.
Phil Kessel replied for the Maple Leafs.
Kessel opened the scoring when he coasted smoothly around Winnipeg defenceman Tobias Enstrom to slip his 30th of the season past Ondrej Pavelec at 11:06 of the first period.
Winnipeg replied from an unlikely source as Thorburn scored only his second of the season at 14:16. The low-scoring Thorburn looked like a sniper as he dipped and flipped a solid backhander past Toronto netminder Jonas Gustavsson.
The Jets went ahead for good at 9:47 of the second period. Gustavsson managed a great save to keep Blake Wheeler from scoring his 11th goal of the season but Little slammed in the rebound to give Wheeler a team-leading 26 assists.
Pavelec made 17 saves for the Jets, while Gustavsson stopped 27 shots for the Leafs.
It was a fast and relatively clean game except for an unenthusiastic fight between Winnipeg’s Johnny Oduya and Toronto’s Joey Crabb early in the third.
Winnipeg and Toronto both failed to score on two power-play opportunities.