Jets road trip ends with 5-3 loss in Carolina

After picking up a pair of wins in Florida over the weekend, the Winnipeg Jets were unable to complete a road trip sweep, suffering a 5-3 loss to the Metro Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night.

Carolina ended a short two-game losing streak after getting shutout in back-to-back games.

The Hurricanes scored a pair of second period goals as they broke a one-all tie to take the lead for good. The Jets pulled within a single goal on two different occasions, but an empty net goal sealed their fate.

After being on the ice for all of the first three goals against, the top line of Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and Nino Niederreiter was benched for the second half of the middle period.

“The other three lines were going really well and creating momentum,” Jets head coach Rick Bowness said. “So you try to get them out there as much as you can.

“It wasn’t going their way. We needed them in the third. We played them in the third.

“Did a couple guys have a tough night? Yeah, that’s gonna happen. So, what you do? You move on and get ready for Boston Thursday night.”

Nino Niederreiter scored again to give him four goals and three assists in eight games since being acquired. He’s also on a seven-game point streak, but still agreed they deserved the benching.

“We didn’t deserve to play,” said Niederreiter. “We just simply weren’t good enough. We weren’t engaged. We weren’t doing the job we were supposed to do. We definitely deserved it.

“Speaking for my line in particular, we didn’t do our job tonight. We got scored on obviously and it wasn’t good enough for us.”

“Sometimes it’s not working out,” said Nikolaj Ehlers. “And those guys have been extremely important for us in turning it around these last couple of games. So, I’m not worried. I don’t think coach is worried either. They’re guys that we need obviously. We need everyone in that room. So, s–t happens.”

Jesperi Kotkaniemi had two goals and an assist in the victory.

Ehlers and Dylan DeMelo scored the other goals for Winnipeg in the loss.

“I think we played really well,” said Ehlers. “We worked our asses off and sometimes you have nights where you let in a few goals and it’s not going well.

“There were some things that we weren’t happy with. We did turn over a lot of pucks.”

Pierre-Luc Dubois missed a fourth straight game. Josh Morrissey was a game-time decision after sitting out their last contest with an injury, but they decided to hold him back one more game.

“If it was a playoff game, he probably would have played,” said Bowness. “But we certainly don’t want a setback at this point of the injury. So, we’re certainly counting him playing on Thursday night against Boston.”

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The home team opened the scoring at the 4:37 mark of the first period thanks to a poor breakout by the Jets.

With the puck in Winnipeg’s end, Brenden Dillon tried to pass it up the boards to Connor but the winger blew the zone before the puck arrived to him and it was intercepted by Jaccob Slavin.

The Hurricanes blueliner had some free ice to get in close on David Rittich, and while his initial shot was stopped, the rebound bounced off him and fluttered over Rittich and into the top of the net.

It was Carolina’s first goal in over 180 minutes of game action as they took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, which was not a good sign for the Jets as the Hurricanes are 33-4-4 when scoring first this season and 27-2-4 when leading after 20 minutes.

But Winnipeg took little time drawing even in the second thanks to a strange sequence of events.

Dylan Samberg caught Jordan Martinook with a knee-on-knee collision just inside the Winnipeg blueline, causing a crowd to form around Samberg. There was some minor pushing and shoving, but not enough to warrant a whistle as the Jets skated the puck up the ice on a three-on-one.

DeMelo kept the puck and beat Frederik Andersen clean with a wrist shot to level the score just 19 seconds into the period as fans booed what they thought should have been a kneeing penalty.

The game stayed tied for all of 39 seconds.

After Carolina won a faceoff in the Winnipeg end, Brady Skjei took the puck down the half-wall and beat Rittich high over the glove to restore the Hurricanes’ lead.

Proving that forwards could also score goals, Kotkaniemi beat Rittich with a wraparound after a sustained shift in the Jets end to make it 3-1 at the 8:15 mark of the period.

The Jets had some decent chances as the period went along but nothing too scary as it stayed a two-goal game through 40 minutes. Shots on goal through two periods were even at 17.

Winnipeg cut the lead to one at the 4:27 mark of the third when Blake Wheeler slid a pass through the legs of a Hurricanes defender, right to the tape of a streaking Nikolaj Ehlers. He slid the puck through the five-hole of his fellow Dane to make it 3-2.

But a self-inflicted wound just shy of the midway point of the third set the Jets back. As he circled back into the Winnipeg end, Kevin Stenlund fired a pass to Neal Pionk near the faceoff dot.

The pass was too hard, it bounced past Pionk and sat near the goal line for a forechecking Stefan Noesen, who passed it to Jack Drury in the slot. Drury buried it past Rittich to make it a 4-2 game at the 9:34 mark.

Winnipeg did not go down without a fight, however. Niederreiter buried his fourth goal as a Jet as he drifted into the slot and finished off a great feed from Morgan Barron to cut the lead back to one with 4:22 to go.

Any chance to rally in the final minutes was severely handicapped by a hooking penalty taken by Wheeler with 2:52 to go, just the third penalty called in the game.

Winnipeg killed it off and got Rittich to the bench for an extra attacker but the last gasp attack proved fruitless as Kotkaniemi sealed the win with an empty netter with just seconds remaining.

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Rittich gets saddled with the loss after allowing four goals on 24 shots, while Andersen allowed three goals on 24 shots.

The Jets will now head home to face the league-leading Bruins Thursday night, and could Dubois and Morrissey back from injury. Pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m. on 680 CJOB with the puck dropping just after 7 p.m.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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