A difficult day for the Winnipeg Jets ended with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in what was not the most well-played game, but considering the day, a win the team will take. The Jets have now won three straight on the road and are now 4-3-1 away from Winnipeg. They find themselves two points behind the division leaders Carolina and Tampa Bay.
Thursday didn't start well for the Jets. Near the end of the morning skate, with many of the players already off the ice, Zach Redmond fell during a one-on-one drill followed by a teamamte accidentally stepping on him. The result was a severe cut on the inside of his right thigh, a few inches above the knee. Terrific work by the Jets medical and training people, as well as forward Anthony Peluso, slowed the bleeding as best as possible until an ambulance arrived and transported Redmond to the hospital. The defenceman underwent three hours of successful surgery to repair the laceration to his femoral artery and vein. Everyone in the organization was visibly upset and getting ready for the game was not easy.
The game was captain Andrew Ladd's 500th in the NHL, against the team that drafted him, and the team he won his first Stanley Cup with. When the wild third period finally ended, Ladd had a goal and two assists in the game.
For the second straight game and third on the road this season the Jets scored early in the first period. Blake Wheeler with his fifth opened the scoring at 1:53, marking the fourth time in the last six games the Jets scored first. But another trend seen of late is the Jets giving up goals late in a period as Carolina's Jiri Tlusty tied it with 1:21 left.
No scoring in the second despite both teams enjoying their own two-man advantages. Winnipeg's best chance came off a Zach Bogosian slap shot that hit the post. Mark Stuart was great when the Jets were down two men, including blocking a shot that bloodied his arm.
Then the wild third. Evander Kane made it 2-1 with his fifth of the season before the Hurricanes' Jordan Staal tied it 1:27 later. Andrew Ladd's ninth of the season made it 3-2 before Tlusty tied it again 47 seconds later. But this time it was the Jets responding quickly, as 16 seconds later Wheeler's second of the game and sixth of the season put the Jets in front for good. The game winner came at 15:06.
Tlusty now has seven goals in his last six games, while Ladd has seven in the last nine games.
The Jets did not start well which perhaps was understandable. There were a number of turnovers that resulted in great scoring chances for the Hurricanes but Ondrej Pavelec was again terrific. Pavelec has now stopped 104 of his last 113 shots for a save percentage of .920. Bryan Little was a plus-2 on the game and now is a team leading plus-7 on the season. Take away the empty net goal in the Pittsburgh game and the last seven Jets games have been decided by one goal, four of which they have won.
Winnipeg's penalty kill was3-3 for the second straight game and has now killed off 19 of 23 power plays in the last eight games. The power play however went 0-4 and is now 0-17 in the last seven games.
Jets are in Philadelphia Saturday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290) for an afternoon game, before closing out four games in six days with a game in New Jersey on Sunday.
Post-game, players talked about how difficult the day was. What happened at the morning skate was a scary moment and left the players shaken. There was a team meeting before the game where hea coach Claude Noel informed the players of the successful surgery.
“It was a tough day,” stated Noel. “You could see the players were thinking about it even during the game, but we managed to pull out a win despite not being at our best. It wasn't a Picasso. We looked rattled in the first eight minutes. It looked like what happened affected us. Our thoughts right now are with Zach Redmond.”