All the offense that was needed in the Canes’ 4-1 win came in the first period, but all the fireworks went off well after the game had been decided.
The Hurricanes started on time. An electric first shift from the Jordan Staal line, featuring a dazzling display from Andrei Svechnikov got the energy on the right side of the ice from the jump.
Just a few shifts later, the Canes scored.
Martin Necas reloaded in his own zone, dropped the puck to Haydn Fleury, and then sprung up ice to be on the receiving end of a chip-in. He got the puck at full speed, danced toward the front of the net, and tapped the puck in past Connor Hellebuyck.
Necas went on to pickpocket a Winnipeg player at the top of the Carolina zone just a few minutes later and drew a hooking penalty. On the ensuing power play, the Canes scored again.
In regulation period number four of his 2019-20 season, Justin Williams got on the scoresheet. Jaccob Slavin found Teuvo Teravainen at the top of the left circle, and he fed Williams for a perfect deflection in the slot. The puck deflected off of Williams’ stick, up and over Hellebuyck’s pad to extend the lead to 2-0.
Less than a minute later, the Jets took some wind out of the Hurricanes’ sail when Patrik Laine found twine on Winnipeg’s first shot of the game to quickly cut the early lead in half.
A largely uneventful first period entered its final stages, wherein the Hurricanes jumped all over an unprepared Jets defense and extended their lead back to two goals.
Andrei Svechnikov flipped the puck from the top of the circles in his own zone, out to the Winnipeg blue line. Sebastian Aho took the puck from a Jets defender, circled the net, passed the puck to himself off of the back of the net to create space, and centered a pass to Teravainen for a quick strike with 1:38 left in the first period.
That ended the scoring in the opening twenty. The Hurricanes led the Jets by one on the shot clock (8-7) and by two where it mattered (3-1).
The was far less fruitful for the Hurricanes. Winnipeg came out of the box with much more pep and they mounted some sustained offensive zone pressure on Mrazek and the Canes defense.
Off of an awful line change, Winnipeg very nearly scored on a breakaway try. Mrazek made his biggest save of the night, though, and kept the game at 3-1 to bail out his d-core.
Ryan Dzingel got the gate for interference at the 6:11 mark of the second period, and it presented a big potential turning point. With all of the momentum going in their favor, a power play goal for the Jets would have been huge. Instead, though, the Hurricanes put together an excellent penalty kill and even drew a penalty late in the sequence.
While Carolina failed to get a shot on goal during their slightly abbreviated power play (Aho had a great chance on a tick-tack-toe passing play, but it was at an impossible angle to get on net), they shut the door when they desperately needed to in the middle portions of the period.
In fact, their first shot of the period didn’t come until the 14:49 mark. A turnover from the Jets led to a big-time chance for Jordan Staal, Nino Niederreiter, and Joel Edmundson in front of Hellebuyck, but the big goalie made an important save when he was finally tested.
Another Canes power play late in the period saw them hold possession and win plenty of board battles, but they weren’t able to cash in on their few chances.
After going almost 15 minutes in the second period without a shot on goal, the Hurricanes mounted a strong push late and managed to keep the Jets off of the scoreboard in the process. But on the whole, it was a less-than-inspiring period for the Hurricanes.
The third period was pure chaos. But chaos is a ladder, and the Hurricanes climbed up and put an exclamation point on what turned into a rousing win.
Just over halfway through the third period, Carolina found the back of the net just a few seconds after the expiration of a power play. Svechnikov found Williams for a backdoor tap-in for the 38-year-old’s second goal of the night and second in as many games on his season.
Things very quickly turned ugly after the fourth Carolina goal.
An odd-man rush for the Hurricanes ended with Teravainen being hit into the boards by Andrew Copp in what could’ve easily been horrible fashion had a referee not been there to soften the blow along the boards. It was an unnecessary and dangerous hit.
Moments later, Svechnikov and Mark Scheifele got into a scrap, which ended with the 19-year-old slamming the Winnipeg center on the ground. Both players got assigned two minutes in the penalty box.
Shortly after Scheifele left the box, he cross-checked Brett Pesce in front of the Carolina net. Pesce took exception and, with the help of Mrazek, shoved him to the ground. From there, Pesce and Scheifele dropped the gloves and had a very angry fight behind the Canes net. That marked the end of both players’ nights.
The Jets tried to mount some pressure late in the game, but the Hurricanes effectively clamped down and gave up very little to the former Atlanta Thrashers, who seemingly tried their best to reignite the old Southeast Division rivalry in their second loss in as many games to Carolina this season.
The final horn before the All-Star Break finally sounded, and the Hurricanes were on the right side of a 4-1 score.
The Canes got multi-point games from Williams (two goals) and Teravainen (one goal, two assists) in support of Mrazek’s (16 saves on 17 shots faced) solid start.
With the win, Carolina improved to 28-18-3 on the season and 4-0-1 in their last five home games. They cushioned their placement as the Eastern Conference’s first wild card team.
Jaccob Slavin will represent the Hurricanes at the NHL’s All-Star Weekend festivities. He will rejoin his teammates for their first game of the post-All-Star segment of their season on January 31 against the Vegas Golden Knights.