Updated at: 03/12/2013 11:39 PM
(AP) WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Blake Wheeler scored twice and Ondrej Pavelec made 24 saves to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood and Evander Kane also scored for the Jets, who have won three of their last four games. Dustin Byfuglien had three assists and Antropov had two.
Phil Kessel scored both goals for Toronto, which is winless in three straight.
The Jets outhustled and outmuscled the Leafs while getting solid goaltending from Pavelec.
The last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference was again in sight for the Jets, who were tied with the New York Rangers at 28 points apiece, following the Rangers’ 3-1 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday night.
It was a chippy game from the first faceoff at the MTS Centre.
Even the two captains got into the act, as Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf went after the Jets’ Andrew Ladd after Phaneuf was tripped and sent sliding into the boards behind the net.
The Jets’ penalty kill was solid and they even survived a 5-on-3, thanks to some great play from Pavelec and defenseman Zack Bogosian.
Winnipeg drew first blood when Byfluglien’s slap shot from the blue-line glanced off Antropov and past Toronto netminder James Reimer on the first power play of the game.
The Leafs tied things up just 38 seconds into the second when Kessel came in unassisted and slid one under Pavelec’s pads.
But the cheers of local Leafs fans in Winnipeg were quieted less than 30 seconds later when the Jets picked up their second as Wheeler slammed home Bryan Little’s rebound.
Wellwood made it 3-1 midway through the second and Winnipeg stretched its advantage in the third as Kane stole the puck near the red line and slipped between two players to beat Reimer 1-on-1.
Remier was then pulled and replaced by Ben Scrivens. But less than a minute later Wheeler swooped in front of the net and slid one in to make it 5-1.
Kessel scored 21 seconds after Wheeler.
Winnipeg’s win evened its series with the Leafs this season. The decider is Saturday in Toronto.
NOTES: Ladd started Tuesday as one of only five players in the NHL who haven’t gone consecutive games without scoring a point. ... Chris Thorburn marked his return to the Jets’ lineup by going at it with Toronto’s Colton Orr less than three minutes into the game.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)