RALEIGH — Victims of back-to-back shutout losses and fresh off the news that Andrei Svechnikov will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, the Hurricanes could have looked disheartened against the visiting Jets.
They were anything but.
Carolina countered each Winnipeg goal with a goal of its own, fending off the Jets to win 5-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,680 Tuesday at PNC Arena.
“That’s the whole key to everything, it’s how you respond,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I mean, that’s life, right? How you respond to the stuff that doesn’t go your way. … It wasn’t a great game. We didn’t play great, but we responded.”
Defenseman Jaccob Slavin ended Carolina’s goal drought less than five minutes into the game, but it was the second period in which the Hurricanes showed their heart.
Just seconds into the middle frame, Winnipeg defenseman Dylan Samberg made a knee-on-knee hit that left Carolina alternate captain writhing on the ice. As players from both teams paired up in a scrum, the officials allowed play to continue, and Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo scored on a 3-on-1 rush that left the Hurricanes bench irate.
“It was kind of a double whammy, right?” Brind’Amour said. “Because he goes down, and then they go down and we just kind of stop playing and it’s in your net. It’s just like, ‘Oh, man.’”
After Martinook was helped to the locker room — he returned to the ice shortly after — Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei scored his 13th goal of the season just 39 seconds later, picking the far top corner from the left faceoff dot on Jets goalie David Rittich (20 saves) to restore the Hurricanes’ lead.
“He’s got a really good wrist shot,” Brind’Amour said. “The guy’s an offensive threat because he can skate. You add the weapons there — the skating, the good shot and he’s a smart player — that’s why he’s having the year he’s having.”
And Martinook returning for his next shift also relieved a team that found out earlier in the day that Svechnikov would need surgery on his right knee and be lost for the rest of the season.
“It didn’t look great, definitely,” Skjei said of Martinook leaving the ice. “Obviously he’s a really tough guy, and to see him back out there not too long after that was was a good sign for us.”
The Hurricanes didn’t trail again.
At 8:15 of the second, Jesperi Kotkaniemi got his 13th goal — a new career high — with a quick wraparound to give Carolina a 3-1 lead that they held into the third period.
The Jets responded with a goal at 4:27 of the third, with Nikolaj Ehlers beating Frederik Andersen (21 saves) off the rush to cut the lead to one.
But Carolina’s two-goal lead was restored when Stefan Noesen — who earlier dropped the gloves with Samberg in retaliation for the hit on Martinook — set up recent call-up Jack Drury for his first goal of the season in his 22nd game of the year.
“Hockey is a funny game,” said Drury, who scored in each of his first two NHL games last season. “It comes in waves sometimes. That was a great pass by Stef there, and it’s nice to get one.”
Noesen’s assist snapped his 12-game point streak, but it was his scrap with Samberg that his teammates most noticed.
“Great job by Noes there,” Skjei said. “It takes a lot of courage to step up like that, and that obviously got the bench going and the guys going. And for us to capitalize right after that (on Kotkaniemi’s first goal) was definitely a turning point in the game.”
Former Hurricanes player Nino Niederreiter scored on his old team at 15:38 of the third, but Kotkaniemi added his second goal of the night with a long empty-netter with 3.7 seconds remaining — a cosmic coincidence as the Hurricanes trudge forward with their No. 37 — to seal the win.
“I think as a team, everyone knows we’ve got to step up and can’t let it bring us down,” Drury said, “and it was a good start today.”
Notes: Noesen set a new career high in points with his 28th of the season. … Kotkaniemi was plus-4 for the first time in his career, and linemate Teuvo Teravainen was also plus-4. … Slavin’s goal at 4:37 of the first ended Carolina’s goal drought at 182:28. … Dylan Coghlan played his first game since Feb. 1, logging 12:30 with one shot on goal and four shot attempts in all.