The Winnipeg Jets returned home for the start of a 6-game home-stand. Their first opponent? Only one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes! Wait, what? Few people are as surprised at Carolina’s full-force launch as Carolina fans. The Hurricanes have always had stronger offensive creation, but lacked the scoring talent and goaltending to make the most of it. The past, however, did not stop them from coming into this game with a sparkling 4-0-1 record. Could the Jets take advantage of a team that just played Minnesota the previous evening, or would the Hurricane-force wins sweep Winnipeg away?
The First Period
If you judged by the first period alone, you’d be shocked to know the Canes were the team on the end of a back-to-back. Carolina waltzed in and immediately pressured the Jets, generating shot after shot and disrupting Winnipeg’s zone exits. The Jets could not sustain any offensive pressure and spent a lot of time in the defensive zone looking lost. Winnipeg very nearly gave up a shot a minute, especially in the early proceedings.
Despite being hammered on the shot-clock and in scoring chances, Jets goalie Laurent Brossoit stood tall and kept the game scoreless. Winnipeg’s defenders repeatedly turned the puck over from behind the net, leading to some point-blank scoring opportunities for Carolina. Somehow, Brossoit managed to keep the puck out of the net and generally looked good in his puck-tracking. He also seemed to shake off some early nerves and made a number of excellent glove saves, including a sensational shorthanded breakaway opportunity on Sebastian Aho. It was an ugly period, but Brossoit managed to keep Winnipeg within arm’s reach of victory.
The Second Period
The Jets apparently got the memo that the game had started and put together a better offensive showing. Carolina wasn’t content to sit back either, exchanging end-to-end stretch plays and forcing turnovers within the Jets defensive zone. Again, Brossoit had to be sharp. His competitor at the other end of the rink, Petr Mrazek, also had a great showing. Mrazek really bailed the Canes out on a bad change that led to a 2-0 with Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine. Ehlers and Laine passed the puck a bit, trying to get Mrazek off of his line, but to no avail. The final shot cupped into the side of Mrazek’s pads and left Jets fans in angst.
The game continued to see both teams stressing, but not breaking, each of the goalies. It was a much better effort from Winnipeg, but yielded no fruit. It certainly could have been worse, so I’ll limit my complaints. The Jets blueline, though, yikes. If ever there was a time to free Sami Niku, now would be that time.
The Third Period
Finally! Goals! Things happening! 4 minutes into the third period, Laine cashed in on an empty-net power play goal. The Jets had been a bit listless until then, but lucked out on a holding call against Jordan Staal that had probably been ignored for most of the game. Winnipeg was up 1-0, a lead which didn’t feel terribly secure.
My concerns were realized only a scant 3 minutes later, with Tyler Myers and Joe Morrow getting victimized on a chaotic sequence. Former Flames Dougie Hamilton and Michael Ferland hooked up to jam a loose puck past Brossoit, tying the game in agonizing fashion. The Canes then pushed the matter, hammering the Jets in zone possession and scoring opportunities. Winnipeg could not execute the breakouts they wanted to, and relied on Brossoit to keep the score at 1-1.
In what seems like the eternal story of the Hurricanes, a poor line change late in the game led to Bryan Little’s first goal of the season. It was a silly, silly mental gaffe to make with less than 3 minutes left in regulation, and it cost Carolina dearly. Kyle Connor finished the night with an empty net goal. Despite outshooting the Jets 43-26, Carolina left the rink with 0 points and bitter memories. A win is a win, but Winnipeg has a lot of work to do.
- Thank you, Brossoit. You were a boss.
- The Scheifele line had a quality night, generating a ton of zone pressure and a lot of Winnipeg’s offensive creation.
- Andrei Svechnikov was a dominant force. He and the other Carolina rookies are going to be scary.
- The Jets defense, even with Byfuglien, was a tirefire. You can only imagine the ungodly horror-show it was tonight.
- Winnipeg’s coaching staffs need to sort their crap out. The Jets are not playing very well, and the skaters are all making some very puzzling decisions. Quality teams are going to capitalize on those mistakes.