"We don't particularly care who it comes from as long as we get a little more than one," Noel said after Thorburn scored his second goal of the season to get the Jets rolling.
Winnipeg has 56 points, winning at a loud MTS Centre after a 2-4 road trip in which it scored just six goals over six games. Home-ice advantage has been one of the few consistent weapons the Jets have found this season.
The Jets made the most of their brief homestand, and now hit the road for two more away games starting Thursday in Washington. The Jets hope this result will lead to better success on the road.
"We haven't been pretty good on the road but hopefully this win will kind of set things in motion," Little said. "We have another big road trip coming up and we need these points. Every game is going to be important for us."
Winnipeg forward Evander Kane made his first appearance in the Jets' lineup since Jan. 19 after missing games with concussion-like symptoms but his ice time was limited.
"Hopefully next game I'm a little more involved," said Kane, who showed no reluctance to go into the corners.
"Taking those hits early on just gave me a little more confidence."
Toronto failed to gain any ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Maple Leafs are in seventh place in the conference, one point ahead of Ottawa.
Toronto had won three games in a row and lost only one in its previous six coming into Winnipeg.
Winnipeg answered as Thorburn scored at 14:16. Thorburn flipped a solid backhand past Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
The Jets went ahead for good at 9:47 of the second period. Gustavsson made a great save to keep Blake Wheeler from scoring, but Little slammed in the rebound to give Wheeler a team-leading 26 assists.
Pavelec made 17 saves for the Jets, while Gustavsson stopped 27 shots for the Leafs.
"All season long we're staying positive," Pavelec said.
"We know we can play. We know we can beat those teams."
Manitoba native James Reimer, who has been playing well for the Leafs, didn't second-guess coach Ron Wilson's decision to give him a rest, but admitted it was a little frustrating to sit.
"It was disappointing. I felt like we had the chances and we controlled most of the play," he said.
"We just couldn't find any good scoring chances in tight. Kudos to them for blocking up the net."
Winnipeg and Toronto both failed to score on two power-play opportunities.
The Leafs lost their first game in Winnipeg 3-2 on Dec. 31. In that game, Antti Miettinen had two of the three assists he has managed since donning a Jets uniform. ... Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian left the game clutching his wrist early in the second, but returned later in the period.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: MTS Centre Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Referees: Mike Leggo, Brad Meier Linesmen: Mike Cvik, Mark Wheler
Attendance: 15,004 (100.0% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Phil Kessel (30)
Assists: Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak
Chris Thorburn (2)
Assists: Zach Bogosian, Jim Slater
Bryan Little (13)
Assists: Blake Wheeler, Johnny Oduya