May 26, 2019

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Jets storm back to top of Central with 8-1 drubbing of Hurricanes

Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler, left, and Mark Scheifele celebrate following Wheeler's goal while Carolina Hurricanes' Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin, right, skate away during the first period in Raleigh, N.C., Friday.

(AP PHOTO/GERRY BROOME)

Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler, left, and Mark Scheifele celebrate following Wheeler's goal while Carolina Hurricanes' Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin, right, skate away during the first period in Raleigh, N.C., Friday.

RALEIGH – They arrived in town looking to prevent a Storm Surge. Instead it was the Winnipeg Jets who came in waves Friday night, pouring cold water over one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

An 8-1 beatdown of the Carolina Hurricanes in their own backyard would certainly qualify as making a big splash. It's the largest margin of victory for the Jets all season.

"It was great. Right from the drop of the puck, that’s a full team ready to play. And we took it to them early and got them out of the game early. The rest, you can tell they were a little intimidated and we carried the play. The boys made it pretty easy for me," said goalie Laurent Brossoit, who made 28 saves on the night to improve to 12-3-2 in 17 games this season.

Winnipeg is now 40-23-4 and back into first place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the idle Nashville Predators. The Jets also have two games in hand.

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RALEIGH – They arrived in town looking to prevent a Storm Surge. Instead it was the Winnipeg Jets who came in waves Friday night, pouring cold water over one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

An 8-1 beatdown of the Carolina Hurricanes in their own backyard would certainly qualify as making a big splash. It's the largest margin of victory for the Jets all season.

"It was great. Right from the drop of the puck, that’s a full team ready to play. And we took it to them early and got them out of the game early. The rest, you can tell they were a little intimidated and we carried the play. The boys made it pretty easy for me," said goalie Laurent Brossoit, who made 28 saves on the night to improve to 12-3-2 in 17 games this season.

Winnipeg is now 40-23-4 and back into first place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the idle Nashville Predators. The Jets also have two games in hand.

Winnipeg Jets goalie Laurent Brossoit deflects a shot on goal during the first period Friday.

(AP PHOTO/GERRY BROOME)

Winnipeg Jets goalie Laurent Brossoit deflects a shot on goal during the first period Friday.

The Jets were looking to rebound from a tough loss Tuesday night to the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. After a full day off Wednesday and a practice Thursday, Winnipeg came flying out of the gate against a Carolina team that had gone 5-0-1 in its past six games and 8-1-1 in the last 10 to move into a playoff spot, playing especially well at PNC Arena where they celebrate each win with an elaborate "Storm Surge" celebration that has become the talk of the NHL.

"This team’s been one of the best teams since All-Star break. We used it to see where we were against top teams in the East and we did pretty well tonight," said centre Kevin Hayes, who got things started when he scored just 2:58 into the game.

It was his second goal since joining the Jets at the trade deadline five games ago, but his first one on a goalie following an empty-netter last week. Linemate Nikolaj Ehlers set it all up with a terrific, high-speed zone entry and feed to Hayes, who had 14 goals with the New York Rangers prior to being traded to Winnipeg. 

Captain Blake Wheeler made it 2-0 just under three minutes later, converting on a nice pass from Patrik Laine for his 19th goal – and seventh in his past four games. 

"My game’s not predicated on goals. I’m just trying to drive the play towards the other team’s net, trying to get around the net a little bit more. Obviously Patty and (Mark Scheifele) are incredible goal scorers and maybe they lose track of me a little out there. Gotta give those guys a lot of credit, they’re making some great plays finding me, putting me in some great spots. It’s nice to see a few go in," said Wheeler.

Carolina Hurricanes' Dougie Hamilton and Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine chase the puck during the first period.

(AP PHOTO/GERRY BROOME)

Carolina Hurricanes' Dougie Hamilton and Winnipeg Jets' Patrik Laine chase the puck during the first period.

The goals kept coming for Winnipeg in the dominant opening frame. Kyle Connor found defenceman Ben Chiarot all alone in the slot, and the Jets defenceman beat goalie Curtis McElhinney with a shot 9:16 into the period. And then Hayes paid Ehlers back, setting up the speedy winger at 18:44.

"He’s a great player, him and Kyle Connor. They’re both elite players in this league. They’re easy and fun to play with. This road trip definitely helped a lot, off the ice and feeling comfortable with some guys and stuff. It’s not always easy being the new guy. But I mean, everyone’s been great. I think I’ve become pretty close with Nik here," said Hayes.

A message sent? You bet, according to Brossoit.

"All these games, leading up to playoffs, are playoff games. You have to get all the habits right. This is a playoff team and they’re playing like it, especially since December. One of the best teams in the league obviously. To come into a building like this and quiet it pretty quickly, it was nice," said Brossoit.

The fourth line got in on the scoring with 31 seconds left in the second period as Mathieu Perreault and Jack Roslovic set up Andrew Copp.

Carolina Hurricanes' Jordan Staal and Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba chase the puck during the first period.

(AP PHOTO/GERRY BROOME)

Carolina Hurricanes' Jordan Staal and Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba chase the puck during the first period.

Carolina finally got a puck past Brossoit near the midway mark of the third period as Greg McKegg re-directed a point shot just seconds after a Jets penalty expired. 

But the Jets got that back a few minutes later as Connor took a pass from Wheeler, spun around in front of the net and beat McElhinney from in tight on the power play. 

Wheeler has points in eight straight games, with seven goals and eight assists over that span. With 83 points on the year and 15 games remaining, a 100-point season is not out of the question.

Copp scored his second of the game with one minute left, once again off a great pass from Roslovic. Then Chiarot put the exclamation point on a big night for his team, firing a shot with 19 seconds left that was tipped by Adam Lowry, who returned from a two-game suspension and was also battling a virus.

Add it all up and the Jets got goals from all four lines, with 15 of 18 skaters recording at least a point.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney defends the net against Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele  during the second period.

(AP PHOTO/GERRY BROOME)

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney defends the net against Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele during the second period.

"We want to play four lines. We think when we’re able to do that we can play a really fast, heavy game. Our team looks really good when we’re healthy. Obviously we’re still missing some key pieces (defencemen Josh Morrissey, Dustin Byfuglien and Joe Morrow are all injured). But up front, when we can roll out four lines like that and play at a really high pace, that’s what we want to get to every night," said Wheeler.

Lowry caused a bit of a ruckus at the final buzzer when he did a mock "Storm Surge" motion with his hands which a few players on Carolina took offence to and let him know. The Jets, it appears, are starting to show a bit of swagger as they gear up for the playoffs.

Winnipeg is now 2-1-0 on this four-game eastern road trip, which concludes Sunday night in Washington against the defending Stanley Cup champs. It will be another chance to see how they measure up and try to make a statement.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Winnipeg Jets' Kevin Hayes looks to shoot while Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Williams defends during the second period.

(AP PHOTO/GERRY BROOME)

Winnipeg Jets' Kevin Hayes looks to shoot while Carolina Hurricanes' Justin Williams defends during the second period.

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

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History

Updated on Friday, March 8, 2019 at 10:36 PM CST: Full write through

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