The Winnipeg Jets' 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday wrapped up a post- Olympic home stretch that saw the Jets play nine of 12 at home, finishing with a 3-4-2 record and eight of a possible 18 points.
The story of the scoreless first period was Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward, as the Jets outshot the Hurricanes 13-6 and had a number of grade “A” scoring chances, the best off the stick of Bryan Little. It looked as though Little had the open net but Ward came diving across and stopped the mid-air shot with the paddle of his stick.
“That's probably the best save anyone's made on me in my career,” Little would tell TSN 1290 in a post-game interview. While Ward followed that up with another great save on a wrap-around try by Eric O'Dell.
The Jets did have a two man advantage for 42 seconds, the 11th time this season they have enjoyed a five-on-three, they have capitalized five times. The Jets were successful on their one penalty kill.
The second period was a complete opposite from the first. Again, one team badly outshot the other, but this time it was the Hurricanes dominating the period. Jim Slater with his first of the year got the Jets on the board first, deflecting a Mark Stuart shot, but the lead lasted a grand total of 37 seconds as Eric Staal tied the game with his 17th of the year. Slater then went off for tripping and 32 seconds later Jordan Staal had the Hurricanes in front with the power play goal. Then 1:08 later Riley Nash banked one in off Montoya to make it a 3-1 game.
Three goals in 2:53 for the Hurricanes proved the advantage, while shots in the second were 21-8 Carolina. After having a 9-0 lead on the shot clock in the first, the Hurricanes outshot the Jets since that point 27-12.
The third period was again a reversal of the previous period. The Jets got an early goal from Little to pull to within one, his 21st of the year, with the assist to Michael Frolik. The Jets played with plenty of urgency in the third, and felt they had tied the game on a goal by Stuart, only to have it waived off. The officials ruled that Dustin Byfuglien interfered with Ward. No penalty was called on the play, but no goal. The Jets also had a three-on-one break, but neither Devin Setoguchi nor O'Dell could get a stick on the pass from Evander Kane. Setoguchi had another great chance but was robbed by Ward. The Shots in the third were 15-5 Jets and finished 36-32 Jets.
Olli Jokinen had nine shots on goal to lead the Jets, while Tobias Enstrom played 24:49 to lead in ice time. The Jets lost Zach Bogosian in the second period and he is listed as day-to-day.
Paul Maurice used to coach the Hurricanes, so Ward's performance was not new to him.
“The first period is how we wanted it to look,” Maurice told TSN. “I've seen that from that goalie before. Second period they won 14 face-offs so we were not starting with the puck. We got tight at 2-1. We got back at it in the third, and Ward did it again.”
“I wouldn't trade our chances for theirs in a million years,” he continued. “I don't have an answer as to why we couldn't get the puck across the line, but Cam Ward was the best player on the ice.”
Maurice did feel the Stuart goal should have counted, however.
“[The] video shows he got tripped. At the end of the day it was a good goal for me.”
On the loss, Maurice offered: “This one is going to hurt for a day, until we get a chance to fix it Monday.”
The Jets now start a five-game road trip, game one in Dallas Monday on TSN Jets and TSN Radio Winnipeg 1290.
Remaining games are in San Jose Thursday, Los Angeles Saturday, Anaheim Monday and Phoenix on Monday. So the Jets start and finish the trip against teams they are chasing.