By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
WINNIPEG — It may not have been their most complete effort on the young season, but it was definitely their most proficient.
The Winnipeg Jets came back from an early two-goal deficit to beat their Southeast Division rivals from Carolina 5-3 on Saturday night at MTS Centre.
The Hurricanes came out hot, beating Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec twice on the first five shots he faced in the game’s opening seven minutes.
Watch post-game reaction:
Call in 35-year-old veteran backup Chris Mason — standing tall all night for Winnipeg while stopping 18 of the 19 shots he faced. He proved to be the Jets’ best penalty-killer, and they needed it while committing five in the third period alone. In the end, the ‘Canes went 0-for-7 in over 11 minutes with the man advantage.
“When your backing-up it’s something that you have to prepare yourself, and I’ve been in this position before,” said Mason. “Sometimes the coach wants to shake things up, and it seemed to work.”
Mason is fully aware that his teammates’ most bountiful offensive outing definitely helped. Through six matchups this season, the most goals Winnipeg had been able to amass in a single game was three.
“When guys can put the puck in the net like that, it definitely eases for everybody.”
Head coach Claude Noel decided to mix up his starting forward lines before puck-drop, but after the atrocious start, Noel went back to his familiar top line of Andrew Ladd with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, as well as the effective trio of Nik Antropov centering Alex Burmistrov and Kyle Wellwood.
It turned out to be a smart move. The momentum swung heavily in Winnipeg’s favour on the shot clock, dominating the ‘Canes 13-6 in the first.
The Jets’ first-period power play got them right back in the thick of it as Burmistrov scored with the man advantage at 12:32, while line mate Wellwood tied the game at two with his own PP marker at 19:58. It was Wellwood’s third of the year. The two-point outing has him tied for second in team scoring with line mate Antropov, and one point behind Burmistrov who has six through seven games.
The Jets came out flying in the second, capitalizing three times in the first 7:30 with goals from Jim Slater, Ladd, and Evander Kane who notched his first point of the season.
“Antropov made a nice little backhand pass out into the crease, and I was able to sneak it through,” Kane said of his goal that made it 5-2 Winnipeg.
‘Sneak it through’ might be an understatement, as Kane absolutely roofed his one-timer wrister past Brian Boucher from very close.
Boucher — Carolina’s backup to Cam Ward — struggled Saturday, even after a standout preseason performance in Winnipeg on September 28. The game’s winning goal from Andrew Ladd came on a one-hopper from the point that stymied Boucher.
The Jets now host the 2-1-2 New York Rangers before heading out on a seven-game, 13-day road swing through the states of Florida, New York, and New Jersey.
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming