A Hurricanes fan doing good work behind Maurice.
It doesn’t really seem to matter who or how well the Jets play lately, the wins just keep on a-coming.
As I stressed repeatedly in the pre-game report, this was a game Winnipeg both should and needed to win. Not only are the ‘Canes a bubble playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but it would be hard to swallow a loss with recent wins coming from much tougher opponents.
The Jets won, but they certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves.
The first period was typical of Jets games lately. Very few whistles, lots of chances at both ends, and Winnipeg ultimately winning the period. Maurice rolled all his lines consistently, with the fourth line seeing most of their ice time in the first. The period ended with no score, but it looked entirely possible a high-scoring game could break out in the second.
Instead of that happening, the ‘Canes completely took over the second period. The Jets couldn’t break out of their own end to save their life. There weren’t too many powerplays in this game, but the Jets had to kill off over a minute of a ‘Canes two man advantage. Though their PK bailed them out by not allowing the ‘Canes a shot on goal during their 5-on-3 (or the subsequent 5-on-4), the Jets were lucky to leave the middle frame with a 1-0 lead courtesy of Andrew Ladd.
The hockey gods evened things out when Carolina’s fourth line tied the game up off a broken play early in the third. The Jets put out a better effort, but it still looked like the ‘Canes had more energy and creativity. As the clock began to run down, Winnipeg appeared content to crawl into overtime and earn at least one point. With only one minute left, the unlikliest of players finished off a Trouba pass through traffic to give the Jets their ninth win in eleven games.
That player? You guess it: Chris Thorburn.
This was not a great game for the Jets. Their games have been quite exciting as of late, but that seems to be an issue with their defence. The Jets can score, but they also give up a ton of chances to the opposition.
Winnipeg’s top line rarely has an off-game. Frolik has been such a great addition to this line, which didn’t look like it could get much better when Wheeler was the RW. Little and Ladd have great chemistry together, but Frolik seems to attract the puck to his stick like a magnet.
Despite seeing more shots than Khudobin, Pavelec didn’t have to make as many big saves as his counterpart. Pavelec quietly posted a .966 SV%, but looked much more reserved and comfortable in his net than usual.
I may take some flack for this as he set up the winning goal, but Jacob Trouba did not have a good game. He coughed the puck up three times on the same shift early in the first period, leading to Carolina taking an extra long shift in the Winnipeg end. There is no doubt Trouba is offensively-gifted, but as most young defencemen must learn to become successful in the NHL, there are no defensive shortcuts. When Trouba can incorporate patience into his game, he’ll put the Jets in danger far less and the points will still come.
The breakout was awful tonight. Carolina had Winnipeg’s defence scouted, and pressured them low into throwing the puck up the boards, where the ‘Canes were able to keep it in. The entire second period seemed to take place in the Winnipeg zone.
The Jets were killed in the faceoff dot tonight, winning only 18 of 50 draws. This doesn’t happen too often anymore to the Jets, but shows how lucky they were to leave with the win tonight.
Maurice will likely treat this game as a loss in the locker room. Everything is going Winnipeg’s way lately, but against a team with more firepower, the Jets could easily have found themselves on the wrong end of a blowout tonight.