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Jets look to stay hot at home against 'Canes

by Frank Mentesana /
HURRICANES (9-17-4) at JETS (12-11-4)


LAST 10: Carolina 3-6-1; Winnipeg 7-2-1

Season series: Friday’s matchup is the third of six meetings between these Southeast division foes. The Jets have won both meetings -- one at home and one on the road -- by two-goal margins. On Oct. 22 in Winnipeg, the Hurricanes jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but then allowed five unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 defeat. In a victorious relief effort, Jets’ backup goalie Chris Mason made 18 saves after replacing Ondrej Pavelec, who gave up two goals on Carolina’s first five shots. On Nov. 25 in Raleigh, Mason started -- his last appearance to date -- and earned another victory, as the 100th goal of captain Andrew Ladd’s career provided the go-ahead in Winnipeg’s 3-1 win.    

Big Story: Each team’s most recent game was a night of firsts. The Jets went above the .500 mark for the first time this season with a 2-1 win over Boston on Tuesday, while Kirk Muller recorded his first NHL coaching win on Wednesday, when the Hurricanes posted a 5-3 victory in Edmonton.

Team Scope:

Muller was finally able to get the monkey off his back after four consecutive losses to begin his stint behind the Hurricanes’ bench. The win over the Oilers also snapped a season-high seven-game losing skid, though Carolina is still in last place in the Eastern Conference with 22 points. The ‘Canes fell behind 1-0 midway through the first at Rexall Place, but then scored the next four goals -- including power-play markers by Jeff Skinner and Jamie McBain and a short-handed tally by Chad LaRose -- on their way to victory.

"It was great," Muller said after the game. "I’m not afraid to show some emotion. We’ve had some tough nights so far in my coaching career. When you have a fun night like this you have to enjoy it. The guys played great tonight and it was fun to see them get rewarded."

Cam Ward made 22 saves for his first win since Nov. 21 and was relieved to get his new coach in the win column.

"It's nice to be able to smile after a game," Ward said. "We wanted to do this for Kirk, he's been great since he got here. The bounces haven't been going our way, but all you can do is stick with it. It was nice to have a night where our hard work paid off."

Friday’s clash in Winnipeg marks the Hurricanes’ third stop of a four-game, week-long Canadian road trip, having split the first two matchups in Calgary and Edmonton.

Jets: The Jets are taking advantage of their December schedule, which features 12 home games out of 14. They have won six of their last seven -- including three straight -- at the MTS Centre and seek their first four-game winning streak of the season when the ‘Canes come to town. Pavelec has been instrumental in the Jets’ 7-2-1 record over their last 10 and was the No. 1 Star in their one-goal victory on Tuesday that ended the Bruins’ 15-game point-streak. The 24-year-old netminder stopped 39 of 40 shots and even registered a secondary assist on the game’s opening goal, which was scored by Ladd with 1:39 left in the first period. The Bruins tied the game at 1-1 early in the third, but Bryan Little tallied just 1:34 later to put Winnipeg ahead for good.

"I thought we played a really solid 60-minute game," coach Claude Noel said. "Pavelec was outstanding when he had to be outstanding. We're playing smart, we're following the details and we're getting the job done."

Who's Hot: Carolina captain Eric Staal has picked up his play, posting eight points (three goals, five assists) over his last six. Defenseman Jamie McBain has three goals and two assists in a three-game point streak, and LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu both have goals in each of their last two games. … For Winnipeg, Little has points in four straight and in nine of his last 10, with six goals and six assists in that stretch. Evander Kane had a five-game point-streak snapped against Boston.

Injury Report: Backup goaltender Brian Boucher (lower body) and defensemen Jay Harrison (upper body) and Joni Pitkanen (upper body) are day-to-day for the ‘Canes. … .For the Jets, Tobias Enstrom (broken collarbone), Ron Hainsey (lower body), Randy Jones (right ankle), Derek Meech (lower body) and Aaron Gagnon (undisclosed) are all on injured reserve, while forwards Eric Fehr (shoulder) and Nik Antropov (undisclosed) are day-to-day.

Stat Pack:
Winnipeg is second in the League behind only Philadelphia in first-period scoring. Thirty-one of the Jets’ 76 goals have come in the opening stanza, helping to account for their 9-3-2 record when scoring first. … Ward, who has never had a goals-against average above 3.00 as a starter -- has a 3.28 GAA that is among the worst in the NHL. As a team, the Hurricanes have surrendered 3.41 goals per game, last in the league.

Puck Drop: Just because the MTS Centre has the lowest seating-capacity (15,004) in the League doesn’t mean it can’t get as loud as any of the other 29 buildings. There was the proverbial playoff-atmosphere on Tuesday when the Jets defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions in front of another sell-out crowd.

"It was the loudest I’ve ever heard the arena," Ladd said of the crowd’s eruption after his go-ahead goal. "It was unbelievable."

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