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Toronto's van Riemsdyk scores OT goal to hand tough loss to playoff-hopeful Jets

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TORONTO — Even though the Winnipeg Jets are in the midst of a playoff race, the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs looked like the team hungry for points.

James van Riemsdyk scored 3:47 into overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 4-3 win over the Jets on Saturday night.

The Maple Leafs initiated physical, chippy play and came back from a third-period deficit to keep the Jets from earning the two points they needed in the crowded Western Conference playoff picture.

Winnipeg (30-20-11) got only one point and has a tenuous hold on a wild-card spot with plenty of teams chasing.

"Definitely a tough loss. I think we weren't our best," said forward Michael Frolik, who scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period. "Third period, yeah, they got good offensive-zone time, and we weren't on our forecheck.

"We weren't in our game."

Van Riemsdyk beat Michael Hutchinson during a 2-on-1 rush for his 22nd goal of the season for the Maple Leafs (24-31-5). Daniel Winnik had a goal and an assist, and Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri also scored for the Maple Leafs.

Toronto's Jonathan Bernier stopped 31 shots.

Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele and Frolik scored for the Jets, who also got contributions from recent trade acquisitions Drew Stafford (two assists) and Tyler Myers (one assist). Hutchinson made 29 saves.

PHOTO: Toronto Maple Leafs' Olli Jokinen, front left, and James van Riemsdyk celebrate their overtime win in NHL hockey game action against the Winnipeg Jets in Toront, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)
Toronto Maple Leafs' Olli Jokinen, front left, and James van Riemsdyk celebrate their overtime win in NHL hockey game action against the Winnipeg Jets in Toront, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

The Jets, who lost 4-1 to Washington on Thursday, didn't have the bounce-back effort coach Paul Maurice would have liked.

The loss to the Maple Leafs, who had dropped 23 of their previous 27 games and played on the road on Friday, was particularly troubling.

Maurice said his team needed a couple of days to heal, and for players to get their legs back.

"We aren't getting up the ice on the puck quite as well as we're capable," Maurice said. "I think we'll get that back. In a couple days we'll be good."

The Jets need to get back to the top of their game quickly, and they were all eager to put this loss behind them.

"Obviously, we came out strong and we had our good parts of the game, but we let up a lot," said Scheifele, who scored his ninth goal. "We've got to move on from it and be better."

The physical, gritty effort was a much better performance for Toronto.

"There's no secret I've been in a bit of a goal-scoring slump, and hopefully this can kick start me down the stretch," van Riemsdyk said.

Winnik, now the Maple Leafs' biggest trade chip before the March 2 deadline, had a goal and an assist. With the Jets and other teams looking for forwards, he showed his worth.

"He is our best penalty-killer and he's been able to play on a third line or he can play on a first line. He can move back down, he can play left wing, right wing," interim coach Peter Horachek said. "He is very versatile. He's a smart guy. Tonight he got into a little tussle. I think that's necessary, too, for guys to step up in important times."

NOTES: Dustin Byfuglien was back at forward for Winnipeg after playing the previous game on defense. Adam Pardy took his place on the blue line. ... With Joffrey Lupul back in the Toronto lineup after a four-game absence, forward Brandon Kozun was a healthy scratch despite scoring Friday night at Carolina. ... Before the game, the Maple Leafs announced that Syl Apps and George Armstrong, both Stanley Cup-winning captains, will be the next players honored on Legends Row outside Air Canada Centre.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien, right, scrums with Toronto Maple Leafs' David Clarkson, left, and Olli Jokinen, second from right, during first-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)
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