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Jets end four-game skid, keep Hurricanes winless

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG – The Carolina Hurricanes were seeking their first win of the season and the Winnipeg Jets wanted to end their four-game losing streak Tuesday.

The Jets emerged with a 3-1 win at MTS Centre and left the Hurricanes as the lone team in the NHL without a win this season.

"It was a battle of two teams that didn't have [much] confidence," said Carolina forward Jiri Tlusty, who had a first-period power-play goal. "They played very heavy, and we didn't some as hard as we should [have]."

Winnipeg began the game having scored twice in those four consecutive losses. But Andrew Ladd and Adam Lowry scored their first goals of the season for a 2-0 lead 2:37 into the game. Tlusty's goal helped Carolina to linger in the game late into the second period before Dustin Byfuglien's breakaway goal shut down the Hurricanes' comeback bid.

"The start was obviously wasn't what we were looking for at all," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "Then I thought we got away from [our game plan] a little bit. We got away from our structure and then we were freelancing, and it just made it harder than it needs to be."

The Hurricanes welcomed back left wing Jeff Skinner and defenseman Andrej Sekera from injuries and could have captain Eric Staal and defenseman John-Michael Liles back before this five-game road trip concludes next Tuesday.

Anton Khudobin made his second consecutive start after an early-season rotation with Cam Ward and made 23 saves. Ondrej Pavelec started for the fifth time in the Jets' first six games and finished with 21 saves.

Ladd scored 1:57 into the game when he jabbed a bouncing puck that squeezed between Khudobin's right pad and the post. Forty seconds after Ladd's goal, Lowry tipped Grant Clitsome's shot from the right point between Khudobin's pads for his first NHL goal.

"A lot of times, it takes something like that to get you going," Ladd said of scoring for the first time this season. "Going to the net was something I wanted to focus on. Just kind of getting there, and see what I could make happen. It was nice to get that right off the hop.

"It gives you a better feeling here, that's for sure. You know, when things start to mount, the toughest thing is getting it to start to go on the right track, and we did that. There are still some areas we can improve on, but it's nice to get a good feeling back in here and some confidence in putting the puck in the net."

But the Hurricanes managed to remain in the game. Consecutive Winnipeg penalties 2:04 apart set up Carolina's first goal. Tlusty scored his fourth of the season when he knocked a loose puck that Pavelec had bobbled into the net on the power play at 7:03.

But Byfuglien restored the Jets' two-goal lead with 3:34 remaining in the second period, breaking loose from Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk and finishing off a breakaway for his second goal of the season.

With home dates against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche up next before a stretch of nine of 11 games on the road, the Jets needed to begin accumulating points and confidence inside their dressing room.

"It was a good bench," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "It was as good a bench as I've seen in a long, long time, and it was under pressure. There is pressure here. Certainly we all felt it going into the game. I thought that early our hands weren't easy for us. There was some offense that we missed, a little tight."

Maurice inserted Clitsome, who had back surgery that ended his 2013-14 season, into the Winnipeg lineup for the first time this season, and the defenseman contributed physically while settling down the Jets inside their defensive zone.

Maurice also liked seeing the Jets steel themselves against any pushback from Carolina.

"As with every game there are going to be pieces that the other team does well, and I thought we handled it really well," Maurice said. "We got some good blocks and some good second efforts at those critical times and some good saves. We had enough offense in our game that we were kind of confident just staying with it and keeping it pretty basic."

The Jets moved Lowry to back to his natural center position after a brief stint at left wing, and the rookie has settled in on Winnipeg's third line.

"It's something I've dreamed about for a long time," Lowry said of his first NHL goal. "To have a meaningful goal and to score a goal in a game that is tight and it's an important win for us, that's something that I'll remember for a long time."

The Hurricanes return to the ice Thursday against the Calgary Flames.

"Right now we just have to bear down and work hard," Tlusty said. "Everyone has to be on the same page. Everyone just has to chip in more [into] the game."

Peters will continue pushing his team in preparation for the hard-working Flames.

"It's going to take responsible play from all 18 guys," Peters said. "Everyone has to be on the same page, everyone has to be hungry for it to happen. To start on the road, you knew that they were going to come out and have energy from the fans, and also the fact they haven't been happy with their play. We've got to get off to a full start and play a full 60 minutes."

Skinner took two second-period penalties in his season debut and played 17:26 in his first action since he sustained a concussion against the Washington Capitals in the Hurricanes' final preseason game Oct. 5.

"The timing is there," Skinner said. "I think there [were] some plays that could [have been] made. [I] will try to take the positives out of it and build toward the next game."

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