WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Some victories are Picassos but the Winnipeg Jets’ 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night looked a lot more like a kindergartner’s scribbles on a refrigerator.
Left winger Nikolaj Ehlers scored the deciding goal in a game full of missed passes, botched breakouts and fumbled scoring opportunities, giving the Jets (3-2-0) an elusive three-game win streak. It was his fifth goal of the season.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 28 of 29 shots in securing his third victory of the young season. Scott Darling stopped 19 of 21 shots at the other end of the ice for Carolina (1-1-1).
In one of the few instances all night long where a player found an open space, Ehlers picked up the puck in neutral territory early in the third period and raced in down the right side and behind the Canes’ net. He dished off to captain Blake Wheeler, who found the young Dane suddenly alone in the slot, and his quick wrister beat Darling high to the blocker side at 6:03.
The official scorer had been inactive for more than a period at that point. The Jets opened the scoring on a broken play that looked good on the stats sheet but was lucky more than anything else. Right winger Patrik Laine carried the puck into the Canes’ zone but when he tried to drop it back to Ehlers, it deflected off his own skate and on to the stick of Klas Dahlbeck.
The Carolina defenseman was surprised that he fumbled it and Ehlers picked it up and immediately fed center Bryan Little, whose wrist shot beat Darling low at 13:33.
The Jets’ penchant for taking bad penalties in the offensive zone then kicked in — center Mathieu Perreault was sent off for tripping at 14:47 — and the Hurricanes wasted little time in replying. Left winger Jeff Skinner took a pass from defenseman Noah Hanifin at the top of the circle to Connor Hellebuyck’s right and snapped a shot over his blocker at 15:18.
The Hurricanes outshot the Jets 29 to 21.
NOTES: Jets D Dustin Byfuglien returned to the Jets’ lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. … Former referee Bill McCreary took in the action tonight. Now working for the NHL in an off-ice capacity, he evaluated the officiating crew. … According to QuantHockey.com, tonight’s game featured the NHL’s two youngest rosters this season. … Hurricanes C Jordan Staal was fifth in the NHL last year with a faceoff winning percentage of 59.1. … Jets coach Paul Maurice spent 920 games during two stints as the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes — and the Hartford Whalers before they relocated 20 years ago — from 1995-2004 and 2009-2012. … Several Whalers jerseys — the most popular defunct NHL brand — were spotted in the crowd. … Justin Faulk wore the C for the first time in his career. He and Staal were named co-captains prior to the season.