WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets surrendered four goals in the games first 10 minutes and the Carolina Hurricanes just barely hung on for a 5-3 victory on Friday at MTS Centre.
“Every shift they were getting a chance and the puck was ending up in the back of our net so yeah it snowballed pretty quick.” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said.
Despite the horrible start for the Jets, they battled all the way back and even had a few chances to tie it up in the late stages of the third period.
“They were on us pretty good early and we weren’t quick enough.” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “And then found our legs and battled back from a pretty low point there.”
The Jets finished their six game homestand with only two of a possible 12 points. They’ve also lost eight of their last 11 games overall.
Alex Burmistrov, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler scored the Jets goals. Connor Hellebuyck made his 12th consecutive start but he barely lasted five minutes in allowing three goals on just six shots before getting pulled. Michael Hutchinson played the rest of the way stopping 21 of 23 shots.
“You can’t fault Helly (Hellebuyck) on any of those goals.” Hutchinson said. “It was just a couple bad bounces so I think it was just a change in momentum type of thing. You always hope that when you go in that the team is going to get that little bit of a spark and you know we did. We played really well the second and third period and we gave ourself a chance to come back.”
Andrej Nestrasil scored twice for the Hurricanes. Phillip Di Giuseppe, Jordan Staal and Justin Faulk also found the net. Cam Ward made 33 saves for Carolina.
The Hurricanes came flying out of the gate. With the game just 1:43 old Victor Rask’s shot grazed the goal post and Di Giuseppe tucked it in for his fourth goal of the season.
Just over a minute later Hellebuyck turned aside the initial shot but Nestrasil was in perfect position to bury the rebound. Jordan Staal and Joakim Nordstrom drew the assists for Carolina.
Then just a minute after that Jeff Skinner slid it over to Jordan Staal and he fired the puck past Hellebuyck for a powerplay goal. It was Staal’s 12th goal of the campaign. Three goals in the first four and a half minutes for the Hurricanes and Hellebuyck’s night was done. Hutchinson took over in the Jets goal as he made his first appearance in a game since January 3.
It would get worse before it got better for Winnipeg. Nordstrom threw the shot towards the net. It was partially blocked and the puck bounced right to Faulk who made the deposit. Riley Nash also picked up an assist on his 15th goal of the season and it was 4-0 at the midway point of the first period. Carolina outshot Winnipeg 12-5 in the opening stanza.
After a high scoring first period play tightened up in the second. Chris Thorburn poked it out front for Burmistrov and he slammed it behind Ward for his fifth goal of the season. Andrew Copp picked up the second assist and it was 4-1 after two periods. The shots were 12-11 in favour of the Jets in the middle frame.
The Jets inched a little bit closer on the powerplay with 10:53 left in the final frame. Dustin Byfuglien’s point shot was stopped by Ward but Ladd took a couple whacks at it, eventually knocking it in. Ladd’s 12th goal of the season narrowed the gap to just two.
Winnipeg then made it a one goal game as Byfuglien let go a one-timer from Nikolaj Ehlers. Byfuglien was originally credited with the goal but it was later changed to Wheeler with the puck catching a piece of him on the way by. The Jets had all the momentum and were only getting stronger as the game wore on.
But the wind came out of their sails with just 1:20 to play as Jordan Staal carried in on a 2-on-1 feeding it over to Nestrasil. He broke in all alone and tucked in the backhand behind Hutchinson to seal the Hurricanes victory.
In a dominating third period the Jets led the Hurricanes in shots 19-6 and ended up outshooting them 36-29 overall.
Toby Enstrom appeared in his 595th career game with the franchise to move past Ilya Kovalchuk for third in all-time games played with the Jets/Thrashers. Only Thorburn (614) and Bryan Little (607) have played more games for the club.
Adam Pardy, Paul Postma and Anthony Peluso were all healthy scratches.
The Jets embark on a short two game road trip starting tomorrow night against the Colorado Avalanche.
WATCH: Head Coach Paul Maurice and Jets player react following a 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes