Winnipeg Jets at Toronto Maple Leafs

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The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first of three consecutive games between the two. The Jets won 4-3 behind strong play and goal from Connor Hellebuyck, who stopped 36 shots out of the 39 he faced in net. Winnipeg has won three of the last four, seven of the last nine and moved into second place in the North division. The Jets are 16-8-1 with 33 points and five points behind first-place Toronto.

Toronto is going through a tough stretch as the Maple Leafs have lost three straight and have watched their lead atop the North division drop to only five points. The Maple Leafs are 18-7-2 with 38 points following the loss to Winnipeg on Monday. Auston Matthews scored a pair of goals for Toronto in the loss on Tuesday to Winnipeg. Prior to losing three straight Toronto had won four consecutive games and seven of the last eight to open an eight-point lead in the North division.

Winnipeg Attack Carrying the Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are scoring an average of 3.32 goals per game and the power-play unit is scoring 24.3% of the time, which is helping the Jets climb the standings in the North Division. Kyle Connor is leading Winnipeg in goals scored with 12, while Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each have scored 11 goals. Mark Scheifele is leading Winnipeg in assists with 23 and overall points with 34. Neal Pionk is second in assists with 18. The Jets have scored 18 Power Play Goals lead by 6 from Connor.

The Winnipeg blue line and goaltenders are doing their share as the Jets are allowing an average of 2.84 goals per game but the penalty kill unit is giving up too many goals at a rate of 76.2% of a time while shorthanded. In net, Connor Hellebuyck is 12-7-1 with a 2.75 goals-against-average and .912 save percentage. Hellebuyck Has allowed 54 goals in 20 appearances.

Injury Report: Nathan Beaulieu is questionable for Thursday with an upper-body injury and Bryan Little is out for the season with a perforated eardrum.

Toronto Needs More Goals

Behind one of the best attack zones in the NHL, Toronto raced out to a big lead in the North division, but over the last three games, the Maple Leafs have had problems putting the puck in the net, scoring a combined six goals for an average of 2.00 goals per game. Overall this season, Toronto is scoring an average of 3.44 goals per game led by Auston Matthews with 20 goals, which is first in the NHL. Toronto’s next leading goal scorers are William Nylander and Mitchell Marner with 10 apiece. Marner is the leader in assists with 25 and is also leading in points with 35, while Matthews has 33 points.

The Toronto blue line and goaltenders are doing their share to keep opponents from scoring as the Maple Leafs are allowing an average of only 2.48 goals per game, but the penalty-kill unit could improve as Toronto is holding opponents scoreless 76.6% of the time while shorthanded. In net, Frederik Andersen is 12-5-2 with a 2.76 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. Backup Michael Hutchinson has played superb in net at 3-2-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. Hutchinson has posted one shutout for the Maple Leafs.

Injury Report: Jack Campbell is out indefinitely and Wayne Simmonds is out until late March

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

Although Toronto has struggled with three losses in its last three outings, the Maple Leafs have an explosive attack led by Auston Matthews, who has an NHL-leading 20 goals, and will bounce back on Thursday. The Maple Leafs play very well against top-tier opponents as Toronto has won eight of the last nine versus a team with a winning percentage above .600. The Maple Leafs have won 15 of their last 22 overall and the favorite in this matchup, which is Toronto, has won 17 of the last 25 overall between the two. Toronto’s goaltending is also above average allowing only 2.48 goals per game.

Prediction:
Toronto Maple Leafs -179

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

The Jets rank 6th in the NHL in goals per game and Toronto ranks 2nd with 3.4, so we should see some scoring in this one. Winnipeg has gone over in four straight games as their defense has been awful. In their last four meetings between these teams, the over has hit three of four times.

Prediction:
OVER 6.5