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Hextall on Hockey: Jets back at it against 1st-place Toronto

Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitchell Marner (16) scores on an empty net and take a hit from Winnipeg Jets defenceman Neal Pionk (4) during third-period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Nathan Denette

The effort put in by the Winnipeg Jets against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night was that of a team on the brink of elimination in a playoff series.

It felt like a must-win game for Winnipeg.

There was Nathan Beaulieu blocking a John Tavares shot at tight range — forcing him into an early exit and the Jets to survive down a defencemen for half a game.

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Enter Josh Morrissey, logging nearly 30 minutes of ice time and scoring his first of the season.

The stars in Ehlers, Scheifele and Connor all finding their way to the stat sheet.

While Andrew Copp and Mason Appleton brought their bullish brand of offence, adding skilled goals without the sparkle.

Connor Hellebuyck — scored on early, his team trailing 2-1, shut the door, delivering a 36-save performance with game-changing stops.

Read more: ANALYSIS — Paul Stastny shining in second stint with Winnipeg Jets

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But it was with the Leafs’ net empty and the Jets shorthanded that the desperation was on display, as the entire team came together with an exhausting effort to just hold on as the Leafs pulled their goaltender with over three minutes to play.

A late goal by Auston Matthews brought Toronto within a tally — but the Jets hung on. They finished the game.

Now the question is: can they do it all again?

Is that type of effort sustainable or will the pure skill and speed of Toronto take over Thursday?

Thursday night hockey on 680 CJOB: what a hockey fan’s delight!

Click to play video: 'RAW: Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck Interview – Mar. 9' RAW: Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck Interview – Mar. 9
RAW: Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck Interview – Mar. 9 – Mar 9, 2021

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