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Skinner, Brent score first period goals, Hurricanes top Jets

Associated Press

1/24/2012 2:52:45 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes are starting to play much better than their place in the Eastern Conference standings might suggest.

Jeff Skinner and Tim Brent scored first-period goals for the Hurricanes, who held off the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Monday night.

Carolina, which played for the third time in four nights, is 8-2-1 in its last 11 home games. The Hurricanes will now have a week off for the all-star break. They are 12th in the East, just two points ahead of last-place Buffalo.

"We have been playing well lately, and it's probably a good time for our guys to recharge from what's happened at the beginning of the year to now," said coach Kirk Muller, who is 10-11-5 since taking over on Nov. 28. "After three games in four nights you could see us losing our legs, but they found a great way to battle and pick up points. It will be a well-deserved break for them."

The Hurricanes, who lost their previous three games to Winnipeg this season, took advantage of a shaky start by Jets goalie Chris Mason, who finished with 14 saves in his 300th NHL game.

Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said his defence didn't do enough to support Mason.

"Our goalies have been really good," Noel said. "It's going to happen some games. That's the way it goes. You just hope your team can help the goalie out."

Kyle Wellwood scored at 13:47 of the second period, but Winnipeg fell to 3-7-1 in its last 11 games.

Cam Ward stopped 29 shots for his 18th win.

Skinner opened the scoring 3:55 in the contest when he got his own rebound and flicked a shot past Mason. Brent sent a shot from the left circle that found its way between Mason's pads at 9:28 to make it 2-0.

"I felt good out there," said Skinner, who played in his fifth game since missing 16 because of a concussion. "I think the compete level has been a lot better (for the team). This stretch at home, we've been skating hard and competing.

"Even in the games we haven't won, we've been in them and they've been one-goal games. It's a lot better feeling in the locker room when you play that way."

Since giving up four power-play goals in five chances at Nashville on Jan. 7, Carolina has gone eight games without allowing one. The Hurricanes allowed two power-play chances to Winnipeg and killed both to run their string to 15 straight.

"It's nice to go into the break on a good note," Ward said. "Tonight was another great night for our defence."

The Hurricanes were held without a shot for more than 11 minutes of the third period. Carolina finally got a shot in on Mason during a power play.

NOTES: Carolina F Jiri Tlusty played his 200th NHL game. ... Winnipeg's Wellwood and Tobias Enstrom extended their point streaks to five games. ... Carolina F Chad LaRose was injured early in the second period and didn't return.