Analysis from Raleigh
→ The Carolina Hurricanes punctuated their five-game homestand by stretching their winning streak to four games with a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Elias Lindholm, Victor Rask and Noah Hanifin netted goals for the Canes, and Cam Ward made 28 saves in his fourth straight win.
"That was the best we've played with all four lines having positive contributions," head coach Bill Peters said. "Everyone found a way to be a part of it and contribute."
Video: Ward makes 28 saves to lead Canes to 3-1 victory
→ If you ask Peters, he'll tell you: Elias Lindholm has done just about everything this season except score - until tonight. In his 17th game of the season, Lindholm finally found the back of the net, and after doing so, he looked to the ceiling and smiled a smile of relief before being mobbed by his teammates. Lindholm walked out of the corner from below the goal line with the puck and hung onto it, drawing Connor Hellebuyck enough off the post to sneak it the puck in short side.
"I couldn't really believe it went in. It was nice to get the first one early," Lindholm said through perhaps the same relieved smile. "Hopefully now it will turn around."
"He's a good player," Peters said of the 21-year-old Swede. "He's been doing good things all year. I'm not worried about him one bit."
→ The physicality in this game amplified in the second period, and it seemed to begin with Brock McGinn's legal leveling of Toby Enstrom behind the Jets net.
"It was a good hit there by Ginner, and then all of a sudden there were hits all over the place," Lindholm said. "We handled it pretty good and got the win."
From there, it both legally and not-so-legally escalated. The Jets began running around a bit recklessly and incited some scuffles after whistles that resulted in 18 penalty minutes for the visitors.
"We have a really competitive group in here," Noah Hanifin said. "When teams want to try to pick it up like that, I think we can answer anytime."
"We stayed disciplined and didn't get too caught up in the heavy hitting, but at the same time we didn't back down from anything. It was great to see guys sticking up for one another," Cam Ward said. "I think it brought out the intensity and the atmosphere in the crowd, too. The place was buzzing watching that. It was great to see the guys not back down. At the same time, I felt like their focus may have shifted into more of a running around kind of style. The objective of the game is to win, and our focus remained the same, even though it got pretty aggressive at times."
It was a chippy period, and it spilled over a bit into the third when Mark Stuart (somewhat, at least) legally wiped out Jordan Staal below the goal line. He then just continued to cross-check him, illegally of course, and the Hurricanes made the Jets pay on the ensuing power play.
Jeff Skinner took a shot through a Lee Stempniak-provided screen. Stempniak then fed the rebound to Victor Rask, who was parked in the slot, for his eighth goal of the season.
→ When the Jets scored to make it a 2-1 game about midway through the third period, you couldn't help but think of the last meeting between the two teams, when Winnipeg erased a 4-1 deficit in the last 15 minutes of the game before winning 5-4 in overtime.
"We didn't forget what happened in game one, so we wanted to make sure we kept our foot on the gas for the full 60 minutes," Ward said.
Tonight it was Mark Sheifele spoiling Ward's shutout and bring his team within a goal, but unlike in the season opener, the Hurricanes clamped down and held on for the win. With the league's best penalty kill, the Canes even dispatched a 5-on-4 man disadvantage in the final six minutes of the game.
Hanifin then scored his first of the season on the power play late in the third period to seal the victory for the Hurricanes.
"The power play came up huge, especially to get that third one, too, just to give us a little bit of a breather to get the two-goal lead and finish the way we wanted to," Ward said. "I was proud of the guys and the way they competed and played."
Video: Hear from Lindholm, Ward, Hanifin, and Peters
→ Ward continues to be a steady mainstay for the Hurricanes in net. The 32-year-old netminder is now 5-1-2 in November with a 1.59 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in that stretch. He made 28 saves tonight and earned third star honors.
"He's played unbelievable. He's been the best player on our team over the past few games," Hanifin said. "He's been huge for us. It makes us feel a lot more comfortable back there in the D-zone knowing how he's been playing."
"He's been outstanding," Peters said of Ward. "He's been good, and he gives us a chance. He's given us a chance to win every night for a long time now, and that's all you can ask for."
"I'm doing what I can to prepare and take care of the body. I certainly feel like I'm in a rhythm," Ward said. "It's a great group of guys, a fun group and an exciting group. There's a lot of potential in this locker room, and it's great to see that we're starting to put it together."
→ Some miscellaneous notes: Tonight marked the Canes' second of 12 games in the third sweaters, and they've won both contests this season. The team is now 59-34-9 in the black alternates. … The Hurricanes' penalty kill has now dispatched 19 straight, including three tonight, and ranks top in the league at 91.3 percent.
→ That concludes an immensely successful five-game homestand for the Canes. Carolina will now play nine of its next 11 games on the road beginning with a three-game jaunt through Canada this week.
"It's fun to win. Guys come to the rink, and everyone is contributing. You can take pride in that and build on the confidence in our game," Skinner said. "We've talked about it a lot, but this homestand was big for us. We wanted to pick up as many points as we could. We did a good job tonight closing it out, and now our job is to take it on the road and continue that brand of hockey we've been building towards."
"This winning streak has been fun, and it's important that we keep our foot on the gas and keep playing well as we go on the road," Ward said.
"This game that we're playing right now can go on the road and win," Peters said. "It's a good team game. It's four lines deep."
The Hurricanes are now 7-6-4 and have 18 points through 17 games as they begin to climb the standings ladder.
"There were 11 teams going into tonight that were either one game above, at or one game below .500. We're one of them," Peters said. "Out of those 11 teams … who's going to get traction? Somebody's making the playoffs out of that group. Why not us?"