With their season on the line, the Carolina Hurricanes needed a win badly and the team responded with a strong performance as they defeated the division leading Winnipeg Jets, 3-1 on Saturday afternoon in Winnipeg.
Eric Staal and Alexander Semin each had a goal and an assist while goalie Justin Peters made 34 saves, some of them first class quality, and the Canes pulled back within four points of the Jets with three games still in hand.
Semin scored the game's first goal when he knocked in a loose puck at the side of the net just 66 seconds into the contest. Eric Staal put a shot on goal, Tuomo Ruutu crashed the net, and the puck squirted out to "Sasha", who made no mistake.
The Canes made it 2-0 a bit later in the first period when Joni Pitkanen found Jussi Jokinen alone as a Winnipeg penalty expired. Jokinen, who had cleared waivers earlier in the week, beat goalie Ondrej Pavelec for his sixth goal of the season.
Ruutu, who helped contribute to those first two goals scored for Carolina, left the game before the end of the first period with a lower body concern and did not return.
The Jets cranked up the pressure after this and outshot the Canes for the period, 11-7, but Peters was equal to the challenge in this game and had a couple of breaks as the puck would bounce over him and up over the net once while the Jets hit the pipes a couple other times.
Just a minute and change into the second period, Olli Jokinen would continue his success against the Canes when he out-battled Jordan Staal in front of the Carolina net after Peters stopped Evander Kane on a rush.
The Jets had momentum and would control play for awhile after this, but Peters looked more confident in this game than he has in the past few and allowed fewer rebounds, while also stopping a couple of breakaways.
The home team came off their discipline half way through this period and they were called for four consecutive penalties. While the Hurricanes generated some shots and chances, they were unable to take advantage of all the powerplay time and the Canes took their slim 2-1 lead into the third period.
Just 28 seconds into the third, Eric Staal took a pretty pass from Semin and beat Pavelec, who looked a bit surprised by the shot, and the Hurricanes held on the rest of the way for the win.
The Canes were outshot that final period 12-9, but they did not back off and were able to control play their fair share of the time, which was key to the win.
The team will close out this road trip with a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
- The Canes were outshot 35-28. E. Staal and Semin led the way with five shots each.
- The team had 17 blocked shots led by Jay Harrison with 3.
- The Canes dominated in the faceoff circle and won 61% for the game. (J. Staal 68%, E. Staal 52%, Nash 50%, Jokinen 67%, Brent 63%.)
- E. Staal and Drayson Bowman each had a team high 3 hits. The team was credited with 22.
- Bowman had a team high two takeaways.
- Our friends at Illegal Curve have some post game audio here, Illegal Curve, and Canes PR has theirs as well at CanesPR.