A four-point night from Evander Kane, a great goaltending performance from Ondrej Pavelec and a couple of breaks all combined to give the Winnipeg Jets one of their biggest wins of the season.
Tuesday night in Raleigh, N.C., the Jets got a goal and three assists from Kane, a 39-save performance from Pavelec and a couple of fluky goals as Winnipeg beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 to move six points ahead of the ‘Canes in the Southeast Division.
With the win, the 18-14-2 Jets pulled farther ahead of Carolina in the Southeast Division and remained in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Jets have ow won twio in a row and are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games on the road.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are 0-5-1 in their past six games and have lost three straight by identical scores of 4-1.
“It’s a good feeling,” Kane told TSN Jets TV. “You’re in position to make a move and we have an opportunity to pick up points and we’re able to do it.
“It was nice to contribute offensively and take some pressure off that (Bryan) Little line. We’ve got 14 games left and you’re going to have to be as consistent as you can throughout those 14 games. Guys have to be at the top of their game over these 14 games to finish the season.”
The Jets have bounced back with a vengeance after losing 4-0 and 6-1 at home to the Washington Capitals last week. Meanwhile, Kane scored his 13th goal of the season thanks to an own-goal by Carolina defenseman Jamie McBain. Kane got credit.
“We try to forget about that Washington mini-series as much as possible,” said Kane. “We need to move on and move forward and play the way we’re capable of playing. We need to continue to push and not be satisfied.”
Jiri Tlusty opened the scoring for Carolina at 6:06 of the first period, but Olli Jokinen tied it at 13:44 and sent the game to the first intermission at 1-1. In the second period, Jets defenseman Tobi Enstrom, who had missed more than a month with a shoulder injury, scored his fourth of the season and then Nik Antropov, a forward who hasn’t missed any time due to injury, scored his fourth of the year.
In the third period, Kane scored when his pass was blocked, then fanned on by McBain, then whacked into the net when McBain tried to clear it into the corner.
“(This win is) huge, especially when they’re trying to catch us,” said Jets captain Andrew Ladd on TSN Jets TV. “These head-to-head games are so important. They’re four point games. We all know the numbers. We’re up by six points now, but they have three games in hand. These are games we have to win. These games are important for us.”
Blake Wheeler wanted to forget the two-game debacle with Washington and focus on the final 14 games of the lockout-shortened season.
“Those two Washington games are well-documented,” Wheeler said. “It’s a shortened season so there are going to be bumps in the road. But we played well in our last game against Tampa and we played well again tonight.
“I think we were aware of where we stand. We have to keep building because the teams behind us have games in hand. We have to take care of business when we play against the teams that are chasing us. Close isn’t good enough. There are going to be bumps in the road. We have to play hard every night.”
Thursday night, the Jets will play in Pittsburgh against a Penguins team that beat Montreal 1-0 on Tuesday night and has now won 13 straight games.
“We’re excited about that challenge,” said Wheeler. “It’s going to be a tough game, a really exciting game a game we’re going to bring a lot of energy and excitement to. I think it’s going to be a great game.”