Hurricanes stifle Jets 4-2 as special teams continue to struggle

After scoring 14 goals in two games, the Winnipeg Jets were suffocated offensively in a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night.

Jaccob Slavin opened the scoring just 30 seconds into the game when his point shot skidded through a screen and beat Connor Hellebuyck five-hole.

The Hurricanes continued to pour on the pressure in the first but Hellebuyck was outstanding in the period, turning aside the other 14 shots he faced.

But like the first, the second period also got off to an inauspicious start for the Jets. Just 1:12 into the frame, Sebastian Aho jammed the puck through Hellebuyck and into the goal to make it 2-0.

Winnipeg decided to challenge the play, arguing that Aho interfered with Hellebuyck. While it appeared that Aho did push Hellebuyck’s pads with his stick and that helped propel the puck into the net, the officials did not overturn the call on the ice.

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That gave the Hurricanes a power play that only lasted 33 seconds because Vincent Trocheck took a hooking penalty for Carolina.

On the ensuring 4-on-4, the Jets cut the lead in half when Nate Schmidt’s long stretch pass to Paul Stastny set up a two-on-one. Stastny found Nikolaj Ehlers who made no mistake for his 10th of the season and fourth in his last three games.

With just under four minutes left in the second and the Jets on a power play, Blake Wheeler sent one on goal from the half wall and Pierre-Luc Dubois, with his stick between his legs, redirected it past Frederick Andersen to tie the game.

Most of the fans at Canada Life Centre didn’t realize how slick the deflection was until it was shown on replay, sending a wave of oohs and ahhs through the crowd.

But the game was not tied for very long. Josh Morrissey took a cross-checking penalty, Paul Stastny broke his stick on the penalty kill, and Martin Necas finished off a mad scramble in front of Hellebuyck to put the Canes up 3-2 with just 20 seconds left in the period.

It was the second straight period in which Carolina got 15 shots on goal, and after averaging close to 40 shots per game in recent weeks, the Jets had managed just 13 through 40 minutes.

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The Hurricanes would extend the lead early in the third after Adam Lowry took a holding penalty. Trocheck jammed in a loose puck on the power play to make it 4-2, yet another goal yielded by one of the worst penalty killing units in the NHL.

Winnipeg almost cut into the lead moments later when Dubois deflected a loose puck through Andersen, but the Canes netminder swung his leg around as the puck trickled towards the goal line to keep it out. Dubois thought he had scored, raising his hands, and the goal horn briefly wailed before the officials correctly called it no goal.

The Jets would get ample opportunity to cut into the deficit at the 7:39 mark when Ian Cole took his third penalty of the game and got kicked out for it, a major penalty for kneeing Mark Scheifele a day after Neal Pionk got a two-game suspension for kneeing Rasmus Sandin Sunday night.

But Winnipeg’s power play was no match for Carolina’s penalty kill, the second-stingiest in the league. The Jets managed just two shots on goal in the five minute man-advantage, prompting some boos from disappointed fans.

With just over three minutes left the Jets decided to pull the goalie and Ehlers had to make a great diving play to keep a sure goal out. Josh Morrissey also made a good save but the Jets did not get any extra offence with the net empty.

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Both teams managed just five shots in the final frame. Hellebuyck finished with 30 saves in the loss while Andersen stopped 16 shots in the win.

Winnipeg now heads west for a quick back-to-back starting in Seattle Thursday night.

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