Hurricanes can’t keep pace in playoff hunt, losing 3-2 to Winnipeg

Patrik Laine scores twice for the Jets, who never trailed

Jets forward Patrik Laine scores the first of his two goals against the Hurricanes on Sunday at PNC Arena. Winnipeg won 3-2. (James Guillory / USA TODAY Sports)

RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes held the Winnipeg Jets’ top line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor in check. The same was true for the second line of Bryan Little centering Mathieu Perreault and Jack Roslovic.

It was the third line — specifically Patrik Laine — that did them in.

Laine scored twice, and his center, new Jets pivot Paul Stastny, added the winner off a fortunate bounce to give Winnipeg a 3-2 victory over Carolina on Sunday in front of 11,407 at PNC Arena.

Stastny, who was acquired from St. Louis ahead of the trade deadline, added an insurance goal for Winnipeg midway through the third period — and the Jets needed it.

After Ben Chiarot hit the post coming up the right wing, the puck hit a referee and bounced right to Stastny, who deposited the puck in an open net for a 3-1 Jets lead at 10:06 of third period.

“It was tough, obviously, to watch that go in,” Hurricanes center Jordan Staal said. “That was tough. Not much you can do about that.”

With 4:12 remaining in the game, Staal ripped a shot short side on Jets goalie Connor Hellebucyk (33 saves) to cut the lead back to one.

Carolina, however, couldn’t muster the equalizer with a sixth attacker on the ice, and the Hurricanes remained outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture after the Florida Panthers won earlier in the day to stake a claim to the final wild card spot.

“For the most part, most of the second and third we had control of the game,” Staal said. “Obviously they’re not going to be as risky, but we had a lot of chances and we couldn’t quite get to three.”

Prior to that, it was Laine who headlined for the Jets. The second year Finnish sniper opened the scoring just 5:40 into the game with a quick snap shot from the slot off a feed from Nikolaj Ehlers that beat Cam Ward (20 saves) and made it 1-0.

Winnipeg seemed poised to extend its lead on the power play with three Grade-A chances for Laine, but he was unable to convert — ringing the crossbar on one — and Carolina gained life.

On a power play of their own, the Hurricanes maintained zone time and wore out the Jets. Just as the man advantage expired, Teuvo Teravainen’s centering pass careened in off of Winnipeg defenseman Dmitry Kulikov at 18:31 of the first to tie it at 1. It was Teravainen’s fourth straight game with a goal and his 19th on the season.

“He’s way more competitive on a consistent basis right now than he’s ever been probably in his career,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said of Teravainen.

Laine, however, wasn’t finished.

With Sebastian Aho in the box for high sticking, Laine made good on the Jets’ second power play opportunity, ripping a shot past Ward just six seconds into the man advantage to reclaim the lead for Winnipeg at 2:37 of the second.

“I don’t see enough of him live, and that maybe is a good thing,” Peters said of the 19-year-old. “But he was sure dangerous tonight.”

The Hurricanes’ streakiest scorer, Jeff Skinner, was nearly as dangerous as Laine, finishing with six shots on goal and battling to get to the Winnipeg net all night. But unlike Laine, Skinner was kept off the scoresheet — his sixth straight game without a goal.

“Just couldn’t get one,” Skinner said. “You just gotta keep at it, though. You’ve gotta keep working for them and sooner or later you get a bounce.”

Notes: The Hurricanes fell to 9-2-3 when Teravainen scores a goal. … Carolina won just 18 of 43 faceoffs, and only Staal (10 of 16) finished above .500 at the dot. Little and Stastny combined to go 16 of 20 for Winnipeg. … Aho’s assist on Teravainen’s goal was his 100th NHL point. … The Panthers win gave them 70 points on the season and moved them a point ahead of both Carolina and Columbus in the standings. Florida aslo has played just 63 games, compared to 65 and 66 for Columbus and Carolina, respectively.