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They won one for Zach

Redmond's injury inspires Jets in Carolina

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- There have been grittier efforts and there have been jaw-dropping masterpieces. There have been memorable virtuoso performances and games that will be dropped into a time capsule and relived for years to come.

But ask yourself this, Jets fans: In the rebirth of the franchise has their been a more compelling victory than Thursday night's wildly sloppy, highly emotional 4-3 decision over the Carolina Hurricanes?

Given the circumstances of the day -- defenceman Zach Redmond had three-hour surgery after having the femoral artery on his leg cut by a teammate's skate blade -- the Jets' win should be remembered as more than just their third straight on the road.

"The mood was not quite the same before the game, knowing what happened this morning," said Blake Wheeler, who led the Jets with two goals. "But it feels great that we were able to find a way to win for him. Hopefully that will put a smile on his face."

First period

Working against some early Carolina pressure, the Jets counterpunch and score on a Wheeler blast. But if there was one word to describe the opening 20 minutes for the Jets, one that can be used in the newspaper, it would be this: sloppy.

"We came out in the first eight minutes and looked fairly rattled," said head coach Claude Noel. "It was a game that was difficult to manage and, for whatever reasons, that episode (the Redmond injury) had an effect on it. It certainly looked like it did."

Second period

No scoring for either team, although the opportunities were served up on a size-large silver platter. Both teams had five-on-three power plays but couldn't finish. That's a credit to the penalty-kill units, but a nightmare development for those on the power play.

Third period

The Jets' big line comes to life at critical times. Andrew Ladd puts the Jets ahead, watches that lead disappear 47 seconds later and then sets up Wheeler for the winner with a clever little flip pass that caught him in stride.

The Ladd-Little-Wheeler line, FYI, combined for three goals and six points. And Ladd -- who began his career with the Canes before being traded to Chicago then Atlanta -- may soon be looking for a new dinner partner on his next visit to Raleigh.

"I had dinner with (Carolina goalie Cam Ward) last night," he said with a grin. "So... maybe he'll stop inviting me over."

After the buzzer

The dramatics of the day will overshadow temporarily this juicy nugget: The win was the Jets' third straight on the road and second on this five-game swing that still has stops in Philly, Jersey and New York.

And for all the fretting about the team's inconsistency, they are now 7-8-1 and two points out of the Southeast Division lead.

"It was big just to find a way to win," said Wheeler. "It wasn't necessarily our 'A' game. That's the way hockey goes; you're not always going to win games when you play a perfect game. Buffalo is probably as close as we've come to playing that way, but that's not the way you get the job done in this league. You've got to find a way to win when you don't have your best game."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

more nhl coverage C4-5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 C1

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