TORONTO - Matt Frattin finally has something to show for his strong play.
The Maple Leafs rookie still is looking at zeroes beside his name on the scoresheet, but his goal in a shootout ensured the Leafs beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 on Wednesday night.
“It’s definitely confidence to give to myself,” Frattin said. “Guys have to step up and create secondary scoring, which we definitely need right now.”
Frattin won’t get an argument there. Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul can’t be expected to carry the Leafs every night.
The 23-year-old Frattin remains in search of his first NHL goal, but coach Ron Wilson didn’t hesitate to use him in the shootout. Lupul’s goal officially goes down as the winner, but when Frattin went high to the glove side to beat Ondrej Pavelec, the Jets were done.
“I had faith he would do it, first of all,” Wilson said. “Second, it would be great for him because he has not been able to score. Maybe that gets the monkey off his back because he has been playing pretty well.”
With injuries to Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur, Frattin will be moved ahead in the lineup, likely to a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.
Frattin and others have to start producing. The Leafs were flat for much of the time the teams were playing 5-on-5, and that can’t continue on a four-game trip that begins on Thursday night in Boston.
When Cody Franson gets another chance to play, it won’t be Jake Gardiner who comes out. Gardiner was terrific after watching two games from the press box, playing 25 minutes nine seconds. He showed at one point why the club likes his composure, as he was hounded back into the Toronto zone by Jets captain Andrew Ladd, but calmly held on to the puck before Ladd had to peel back. Said Gardiner: “Hopefully it’s a tough decision for them.” He has nothing to worry about ... Next to sit? One of Luke Schenn or Mike Komisarek. It’s not hard to wonder whether Schenn would have been better off now had he signed that big contract during the dog days of summer and not on the eve of training camp. Schenn was asked about negotiations wherever he went during the off-season, and although the new pact eventually was done, the 21-year-old is struggling. Had it not dragged on through August and into September, Schenn would have been able to put it behind him ... Schenn was on the ice for just 11 minutes 54 seconds, and Komisarek, no fan favourite judging by what is said in the world of Twitter, took back-to-back penalties in the second period and was in the box for a Jets goal. Komisarek had 13 minutes 33 seconds of ice time ... Kessel’s talents as a goal-scorer are revealing themselves in every game, but the Wisconsin native continues to demonstrate he is not stuck on one trick. When Kessel drew a Jets defender to spring Joffrey Lupul to a patch of wide-open ice, allowing Lupul to one-time Kessel’s pass into the Winnipeg net, it was the kind of move that only a smart playmaker can pull off ... Lupul’s shot was perfectly aimed, breaking the camera lens on the middle bar in the back of the net ... Kessel has recorded a point in 15 consecutive games, including the final 10 games of 2010-11. The most recent time Kessel did not get a point was on March 17, when the Leafs lost 4-0 in Florida against the Panthers ... Colby Armstrong is not the kind of player the Leafs can afford to go long without. A good glue guy, Armstrong suffered a lower-body injury on his first shift when he collided with Jets defenceman Derek Meech. It appeared that Armstrong was favouring his left leg.
FROM THE HASH MARKS
We would never suggest that Kyle Wellwood is quick, but by the time the Jets scored their second goal, Wellwood was sitting on the bench. The former Leaf started the scoring play in the neutral zone when he passed the puck to Nik Antropov, who wound up feeding Alexander Burmistrov. Schenn was late to get back in the play, and had perfect view of Burmistrov’s first goal of the season ... Nice to see Jets first-rounder Mark Scheifele score his first NHL goal after he went without a point in his first four games. Scheifele was a nice story for Winnipeg when he tore it up in the pre-season, but it would be better for his overall development to send him back to the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. Let Scheifele dominate the OHL under ex-Jet Dale Hawerchuk in Barrie instead of playing sporadically in the NHL. With five games done, the Jets’ decision on whether to keep Scheifele is coming soon ... Although the Leafs have not been on the road for what seems like forever, they are not the only NHL team to have not played an away game in 2011-12. The New York Islanders started with four games in a row at home, going 3-1. Both clubs will make their road debuts on Thursday, with the Leafs in Boston and the Islanders visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning ... Jonas Gustavsson will make his first start of the season in the Leafs net against the Bruins. “I have been looking forward to it for a while now,” Gustavsson said.