It always seems to be something with the Winnipeg Jets this season. Friday night’s wrap up to a 6 game homestand was no different as the Jets spotted Carolina a 4-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game, before eventually losing 5-3 to the visitors.
Mathieu Perreault got the snowball rolling downhill early when his pass into the defensive zone slot was picked off, and Phil Di Giuseppe banged home a rebound for a 1-0 Carolina lead just 1:43 into the game. Andrej Nestrasil added his first of two on the night only 82 seconds later with the Jets standing around in their own end. And then after a Dustin Byfuglien delay of the game penalty, it took the Hurricanes all of :42 seconds to convert against the NHL’s 4th worst penalty killing unit. Jordan Staal’s shot from the right circle made it 3-0 at the 4:33 mark, and that was all she wrote for Winnipeg starter Connor Hellebuyck who allowed the 3 goals on 6 shots.
The Hurricanes Justin Faulk upped the lead to 4-0 midway through the period, when the Jets were guilty of more defensive zone “unawareness” and left the All Star Blueliner completely unchecked at the left goal post for a routine tap in on Michael Hutchinson.
From that point on it was probably equal parts pride, execution, getting their feet moving, and Carolina perhaps thinking the game was over that allowed Winnipeg to chip away and make a game of it.
Alex Burmistrov finally solved Cam Ward with 1:25 left in the 2nd period. Andrew Ladd’s persistence around the Hurricanes crease cut the lead to 4-2 with just under 11 minutes to play. And Blake Wheeler’s deflection of a Byfuglien shot at 13:48 began to conjure up story lines of a miracle comeback, and the Jets first victory when trailing after two periods.
The Hurricanes continued the rope a dope” routine until Nestrasil put an end to the drama with 1:20 to play, leaving Winnipeg at 1-5 for the homestand and a season worst 4 games below .500.
Captain Andrew Ladd tried to explain how he and his team mates could play as poorly as they did for that opening 10 minutes. “Obviously not the start that we wanted. They were a lot quicker than us on pucks. They had some pucks go in the net and all of a sudden it was 4-0, ” was Ladd’s Coles Notes analysis.
Head Coach Paul Maurice compared the onslaught to the Hurricanes last victory. “They did the exact same thing to Chicago two games ago,” said Maurice during a barely 2 minute post game media session. “They came out and blew the doors off them. We didn’t give the goaltender an opportunity to hold that time and our goaltender didn’t give us the opportunity to get through that time. Everybody was in on that.”
Hutchinson inherited a 3-0 deficit in making his first appearance since a January 3rd, 4-1 loss in Anaheim and finished the night with 21 saves on the 23 shots he faced in just over 54 minutes of relief. “You never want to go in under those circumstances, so that’s a little unfortunate. But at the same time it was nice to get back in and get the game feel again and see some shots.”
Hutchinson hasn’t won since coming in to relive Ondrej Pavelec for the start of the 3rd period of a 3-2 win over Arizona back on November 21st. But the forgotten backup might get the start when the Jets visit Colorado on Saturday. Winnipeg is 0-3 vs their Central Division rivals and didn’t get off to a particularly good start the last time they visited the Mile High City back on November 28th. Jets were down 2-0 after 20 minutes and eventually wound up losing 5-3.
Finishing the home stand on a losing note, coupled with Columbus winning 2-1 in Calgary, leaves Winnipeg tied for dead last in the standings with the Blue Jackets, Flames, Oilers, Leafs, and Sabres.