Jets’ special teams sputter in 4-2 loss to speedy Hurricanes


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The Winnipeg Jets had an entertaining weekend in every respect but received a stern lesson Tuesday night from one of the NHL's most thorough, business-like squads. 

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/12/2021 (543 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Jets had an entertaining weekend in every respect but received a stern lesson Tuesday night from one of the NHL’s most thorough, business-like squads. 

Holding the Jets to just 18 shots and hitting paydirt with a couple of power-play tallies, the Carolina Hurricanes registered a sound 4-2 triumph at Canada Life Centre.

The Jets (12-9-4) settled for a split of their four-game homestand.

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele and Carolina Hurricanes’ Brendan Smith compete for a loose puck during the second period of the 4-2 Carolina win in Winnipeg on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade

“We weren’t good enough to win tonight. They deserved it,” summed up head coach Paul Maurice. “We just weren’t prepared to play. That’s my job. For the style of game that was going to be played, we didn’t skate nearly well enough to expect to win.”

The Jets’ high-flying offence, which initiated all-out blitzes on the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and Sunday, respectively, was, for the most part, held in check by the quick, relentless Metropolitan Division squad (17-6-1).

The Hurricanes did their finest work during a suffocating, five-minute penalty kill in the third period, limiting the frustrated Jets to only a pair of shots. The wasted opportunity against the NHL’s second-best PK unit resulted in a handful of harsh stick slams by the flummoxed hosts.

“When you got a team that’s pressing you that hard, you want to move the puck from side to side. From one side to the other side as quick as possible, and we weren’t able to do that,” said Nikolaj Ehlers. “I think maybe a little bit more support to the guy that has the puck is something that we should have changed a little.

“We did score a power-play goal, but obviously when you’re behind 4-2 and you get a five-minute power play, you want to at least get some momentum going. And we weren’t able to do that. We’ll be better next game.”

Ehlers, with his 10th goal of the year, and Pierre-Luc Dubois, with his 13th, each scored on netminder Frederik Andersen in the second period. Dubois’ nifty between-the-legs deflection of a pass by Blake Wheeler lifted the Jets into a 2-2 tie with just over four minutes remaining in the middle frame.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck makes a save on a Carolina Hurricanes shot as Jets' Paul Stastny and Hurricanes' Nino Niederreiter look for a rebound during the first period.

However, Martin Necas swiped in a power-play goal late in the period and then Vincent Trocheck added another power-play tally early in the final frame.

Indeed, the Jets’ penalty kill — the NHL’s second-worst — was a dumpster fire once again, erasing just one of three short-handed situations.

Winnipeg missed the services of defenceman Neal Pionk, who is out with a concussion and also served the first of a two-game suspension, the punishment for kneeing Toronto’s Rasmus Sandin on Sunday night. Pionk is a key piece and plays in all situations, averaging more than 22 minutes a night,

Nathan Beaulieu was paired with Dylan DeMelo, while left-shooting Logan Stanley moved up to play his off side with partner Brenden Dillon.

And Stanley’s first shift after the promotion — and the game’s opening shift — was a total calamity. His first giveaway led to a Grade A chance by dynamic Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov that was thwarted by Dillon, who flicked the puck off the goal line. Moments later, the second-year defenceman coughed up the puck in a panic to defenceman Jaccob Slavin, who fired from well out to beat Hellebuyck through the pads for his first tally of the season just 30 seconds into the contest.

Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, with his 11th of the year, upped the lead to 2-0 just 72 seconds into the second period, jamming a loose puck behind a fallen Hellebuyck. Maurice’s challenge on an allegation of goaltender interference was discredited by video replay.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Copp checks Carolina Hurricanes’ Seth Jarvis during the second period.

Hellebuyck took issue with the ruling.

“It’s goalie interference,” he said, emphatically. “I’ve read the league’s explanation about it. They called it a loose puck. The rule states that on a loose puck the player and goalie, if they’re both trying to go for it, there’s allowed to be incidental contact. But that wasn’t incidental contact. (Aho) drove me through and he didn’t get the puck until he turned me 90 degrees.

“I don’t want to say I had it fully covered, but it was jammed on my pad by my doing, and it only came free once I was spun fully around. And his stick was in my knee, and not allowing me to do anything. I was rendered useless. So, for me that’s goalie interference. If it’s puck first, I’ll allow it. But it wasn’t puck first.”

Carolina’s Ian Cole caught Mark Scheifele with a knee at the 7:39 mark of the third period, receiving a five-minute major and an early shower. The expectation is he’ll have to answer for his actions with the NHL’s department of player safety. 

Collectively, the Hurricanes implement a style that’s a carbon copy of the game their head coach played for 20 years. Remarkably talented and dogged in his determination as a player, Rod Brind’Amour has instilled that in his Metropolitan Division team.

The Jets had no answers.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets' Pierre-Luc Dubois deflects the puck past Carolina Hurricanes’ goaltender Frederik Andersen for a goal during the second period.

“We weren’t very fast out there in the first (period), got better in the second. You know, when a team is that aggressive you want to chip pucks out, get pucks deep and work from there,” said Ehlers. “I think we were able to do that a bit better in the second period. We’ve got to do that better, and that’s something we’re obviously going to look at and talk about.”

A brilliant two-way winger, Brind’Amour spent parts of eight seasons Carolina with Maurice behind the bench. He then served as an assistant to Maurice during the 2011-12 campaign until the boss was fired 25 games in.

Brind’Amour knows what it takes to earn the right to hoist the Stanley Cup, wearing the ‘C’ when the ‘Canes won the NHL title in 2006.  

“They skate very, very well. They skate to check and we were just slow with it and slow without the puck,” said Maurice. “Our puck carrier didn’t move and that held the other forwards. It’s not a game where you can pass the puck …it’s got to be indirect, it’s got to be chipped to speed. You’ve got to play the same kind of skating game and we didn’t skate at all, right from the very first shift.”

It’s late-night TV viewing later this week as the Jets fly west for a pair of games against Pacific Division opponents.

They make their first visit Thursday to Seattle for a meeting with Mason Appleton, Brandon Tanev and the rest of the Kraken and then cross the border to battle the Vancouver Canucks on Friday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler and Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Staal battle for the puck during the second period.

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).


Updated on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 10:48 PM CST: Adds photos

Updated on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 12:37 AM CST: Updates story to final version

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