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Connor Hellebuyck outplays Garret Sparks in Jets' 6-1 win over Maple Leafs

WINNIPEG — Drew Stafford scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck won the showdown of the rookie goaltenders as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 on Wednesday.

Hellebuyck made 32 saves in his second NHL game, following up a 3-1 victory he recorded against Minnesota on Nov. 27.

Leafs rookie Garret Sparks was also playing his second pro game and stopped 29 of the 35 shots he faced. He had backstopped Toronto to a 3-0 win over Edmonton on Monday.

Stafford's linemate, centre Mark Scheifele, had a goal and two assists for Winnipeg (12-12-2), while Jets captain Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Anthony Peluso also scored. Mathieu Perrault picked up a pair of assists.

Michael Grabner had his first goal of the season for Toronto (8-12-5) in his 23rd game.

The Leafs took advantage of a loose puck to score the game's first goal.

Winnipeg defenders couldn't hang onto the puck along the boards in their own end, with Daniel Winnik picking up the loose puck. He sent a pass over to Grabner in front of the net, who shot it behind Hellebuyck at 2:02 of the first period.

The Jets tied it up six minutes later after Scheifele carried the puck down the ice and made a long backhand pass to a hard-skating Stafford alone in front of the net. Stafford quickly sent a backhand shot over Sparks for his eighth goal of the season at 8:25.

Stafford's second goal of the game was scored from a sharp angle at 17:32 with Toronto's Leo Komarov in the penalty box for tripping.

Winnipeg had outshot the Leafs 23-17 after the scoreless second period.

Scheifele scored his ninth goal of the season, and 100th point of his career, at 1:25 of the third period off a rebound.

Ladd followed up 78 seconds later with a shot over Sparks's shoulder for his seventh of the season at 2:43 to make it 4-1.

The Leafs had a goal by Nick Spaling waved off less than a minute later because of a successful challenge for goalie interference. It was head coach Paul Maurice's first challenge of the season.

Little fired a low shot in the open side of the net at 10:53 just seconds after Dion Phaneuf left the box for tripping. Peluso scored his first of the season with 2:07 left in the game.

Toronto visits Minnesota for a game Friday, while Winnipeg hosts Washington on Saturday.

Notes: Former Leafs starting goalie Jonathan Bernier was sent to the AHL Toronto Marlies on Wednesday for a 10-day conditioning stint. He hadn't pick up a win in nine starts this season (0-8-1).

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

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