The Hurricanes began a six-game road trip on Monday night that will see them spending a lot of time in Canada for the next week and a half. The journey through Canada began in Winnipeg to face the Jets. The Canes came into the game riding a four-game point streak, looking to begin the trip on the right foot.
For the first time since the 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay, Antti Raanta would get the start for the Canes. Opposite him would be Laurent Brossoit, the Jets’ backup goalie. It was also a big night for former Hurricane Nino Niederreiter, who signed a three-year extension on Monday to stay in Winnipeg for a little longer.
The beginning of the game was dominated by the Hurricanes. The puck stayed around Laurent Brossoit for the better part of the period. An early power play helped things, and the Canes had some excellent looks. The best was from Winnipeg’s own Seth Jarvis, who tipped one just wide. The Jets killed it, but they wouldn’t get a shot on Antti Raanta until over 16:30 into the period. That shot didn’t beat Raanta, but the Jets’ second shot would. Kyle Connor beat Michael Bunting up the ice and buried a partial breakaway chance to get the Jets on the board. Despite a 15-3 advantage in shots at the end of 20 minutes, the Jets had the only goal.
The Jets began the second period with over a minute left on a power play, but the Hurricanes did a good job of shutting them down. The second was much more even. The Jets started to show more signs of life while the Canes continued to press for their first goal. Brent Burns nearly found the answer, but his shot rang off the crossbar to keep it a 1-0 game.
Naturally, this would lead to the Jets scoring the next goal. The same line struck again. Mark Scheifele, who sprung the breakout that led to the first goal, made a beautiful pass to the slot for Nikolaj Ehlers. He made no mistakes and wired his shot over the blocker of Antti Raanta to make it 2-0 more than halfway through the period. To this point, Scheifele’s line was the only line doing anything for Winnipeg. Unfortunately, it was more than enough.
The Canes failed to capitalize on their second power play shortly after the Ehlers goal, but they’d get one before the end of the period. Martin Necas began the sequence with a great play to poke the puck away from a Jets defender. He passed it to Jalen Chatfield at the point, and though his shot was denied, Necas was there to pick up the rebound, try to wrap it around the net, and get a fortunate bounce off Dylan DeMelo to finally break the shutout in the final minute of the period. Going into the third period, it gave the Canes momentum, needing one shot to tie the game.
Despite all the pushing in the world, the tying goal wasn’t in the cards for the Canes. Laurent Brossoit put on a masterclass down the stretch, making huge stops on Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Seth Jarvis to preserve the 2-1 win. Antti Raanta, to his credit, also made some great stops. His biggest of the night came on a Kyle Connor breakaway that he stretched to get his pad on. He also took a page out of Pyotr Kochetkov’s book with a diving poke check late in the contest. He allowed the Hurricanes a chance to tie this game.
The last thing people want to hear is how good of a road game this was despite the loss. However, considering the team’s struggles during their first West Coast trip, this was night and day. The reality is that this is going to happen. It just so happened to come during a time when the Canes needed to start hitting their stride. The playoff race, albeit early, has gotten tight. Teams can’t afford to have nights when they’re dominating but can’t find the back of the net. Sometimes, you run into a goalie who has your number. That was Laurent Brossoit in this one.
The most encouraging sign from this game was Antti Raanta’s performance. After a historically bad game in his last start, Raanta rebounded with a performance that we’ve come to expect from him. I won’t fault him for either goal, and he made a few huge stops to keep the Hurricanes in the game. He didn’t get the goal support he needed from the team in front of him, which ultimately put a damper on an otherwise good night.
At the end of the day, one line was able to do enough damage to take a win away from the Canes. Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, and Nikolaj Ehlers were the only players on the scoresheet for the Jets. Add a game-stealing performance from your backup goalie, and it was clearly the Jets’ night. This is an occurrence that has become all too familiar for Caniacs. The Canes nearly doubled the Jets in shots, but the Jets doubled them on the scoreboard.
The road trip heads to Alberta as the Hurricanes will play back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday against Edmonton and Calgary, respectively. The contest with the Oilers will be a nationally televised affair. The western portion of the trip ends with a tilt against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Get ready, Caniacs. Late-night hockey is coming.