If the Toronto Maple Leafs are desperate to make the playoffs, it certainly didn’t show last night.
Instead, it was the visiting Winnipeg Jets who delivered a knockout performance at the Air Canada Centre, effectively ending the Leafs’ playoff hopes with a dominant 4-2 win.
The game looked promising for the Leafs at the outset. Tyler Bozak set-up Phil Kessel just minutes into the game to put the Leafs ahead 1-0. Winnipeg quickly responded, then Nazem Kadri regained the lead for Toronto with an unassisted power play goal mid-way through the first period.
That could have easily been the game winner – Winnipeg didn’t look good at this point, especially goaltender Ondrej Pavelec – but Jacob Trouba tied up the game at 2-2 in the dying seconds of the opening frame.
Trouba’s goal seemed to energize the Jets and leave the Leafs deflated. Moving from the second period forward, Winnipeg never took its foot off the gas medal while Toronto fell flat in arguably the biggest game of their season.
After this loss, it’s hard to imagine the Leafs making the playoffs. Although the Detroit Red Wings also lost last night, I cannot see Toronto catching them down the stretch. Detroit has a four-point lead on Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings right now.
Toronto’s best bet lies in catching the Columbus Blue Jackets, but they have two games-on-hand over the Leafs. It doesn’t help that the Blue Jackets swept the season series between Columbus and Toronto. These are lost points that are just now coming back to haunt the Leafs.
Could things possibly get any worse for the Leafs?
They now sit in tenth place after the New Jersey Devils – a team written out of the playoff race a long time ago – beat the Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams have 84 points, but the Devils have one extra game left to play, giving them the tie breaker.
Do you remember when the Leafs sat near the top of the standings? It was just last month.
I guess if a week can be a lot of time in politics, then a month can be deadly in hockey.
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