RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was disjointed, sloppy and had roughly the same artistic merit as a toxic-waste spill.
But, flawed as it was, the Winnipeg Jets' 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in front of an announced crowd of 14,033 at PNC Arena might also represent something else for the crew in the double blue and white: growth.
Yes, on a night in which so much of what the Jets have done well under Paul Maurice WASN'T on display -- the skating, speed, defensive detail was in very short supply -- they got some solid work from goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, a gritty effort by the foot soldiers on the penalty kill and a flash of creativity by Jacob Trouba with just over a minute left to pick up their ninth win in 11 games under the new boss.
"To be honest with you, it wasn't our best game," said Maurice. "I don't know that we played to our strengths, but we just came off two emotional games against Vancouver and Montreal, which is such a big deal for us. It's good to win a game when you're not necessarily at your best. Our structure was good, our goalie was good and the confidence is there that we can stay in the game."
The win improves the Jets to 28-25-5 and moves them to within two points of the Vancouver Canucks, who hold down the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference and fell 3-1 in Boston Tuesday night.
"That's what good teams do, they find a way to win when maybe they're not on their 'A' game," said captain Andrew Ladd. "A lot of it is confidence in your 'D' zone, to have the patience to know you've just got to relax and have everybody in their position and find a way to weather the storm."
A LITTLE CREATIVITY WHEN IT MATTERS
There must have some gasps late in the third period when Jacob Trouba took a pass from Blake Wheeler at the Canes' blue-line, shrugged off a check by Nathan Gerbe while playing a pass off the boards to himself and then burst around Ron Hainsey to attempt a wraparound, the rebound of which was buried by Chris Thorburn for the winner with just 63 seconds remaining.
Trouba was all over the map against Carolina, making some 19-year-old decisions at times but then flashing some brilliance when it mattered.
"His first two shifts he looked like a Norris Trophy candidate, the next two were a little bit unusual because usually his puck-handling and decision-making is a real strength of his," said Maurice. "But great confidence in a young man to want to make the play that decides the game. "You guys look this up, but that guy's got to be +14 or +15 in his last 10 games. He's been on the ice for big goals, overtime goals... you can tell by his minutes we don't hide him. I'm not playing the kids because I'm a good guy and I'm thinking five years down the road. We're playing to win every night and that's why those two guys (including Mark Scheifele) play as much as they do."
Remember, Trouba is still just 19. He leads all NHL rookies in ice time and, after Zach Bogosian, had the second-most minutes played of all skaters in Tuesday's game.
"It's one of those plays where maybe you're a little nervous seeing a defenceman jump down at the end of the game," said Ladd. "But for a young kid to have the confidence to do that... we know he's extremely strong on the puck. It's one thing he's really good at -- knowing where he is on the ice and that he can't turn the puck over. He used his speed and got to the net.
"It's something we probably take for granted and you forget how young he is."
PAV VS. MONTOYA
There was tons of gnashing of molars earlier in the day when Maurice confirmed Ondrej Pavelec would get the start in net over Al Montoya, who has been the first star in both of his wins under the new head coach -- including Sunday's 2-1 decision over Montreal.
But Pavelec was solid and improved to 7-2 under Maurice with a sparkling .957 save percentage.
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