WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Winnipeg Jets channeled their inner Johnstown Jets in losing to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, but bet on the locals being on their best behavior when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town Sunday night.
The Jets took 60 of 76 penalty minutes handed out during a meltdown in Music City — including a string of eight straight minors — in a 3-0 loss to the team they eliminated in the second round of the playoffs last spring.
Add in a couple of fights, including one featuring 172-pound Danish forward Nikolaj Ehlers, and the performance was reminiscent of something from their Johnstown brethren, the inspiration for the cult hockey classic starring the Hanson Brothers, “Slap Shot.”
Coach Paul Maurice took a thinly veiled shot at defenseman Tyler Myers, who was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for sarcastically clapping at one of the referees after the Jets were about to go on a lengthy two-man disadvantage with defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba in the penalty box.
“It does us absolutely no good to critique other people’s jobs,” he told The Winnipeg Sun. “We took two penalties we earned. We felt the line was moving quite a bit on the other ones. You know what, you’re going to have games and nights where you don’t agree with it.
“I liked (the game) through two (periods). I don’t think we were real sharp in the third, but I had half a group drinking hot chocolate on the bench just trying to stay warm.”
The Jets have a reputation for breaking the rules a little too much for the officials’ liking for the past few seasons. (Their penalty killers were a perfect 9 of 9 on this night.)
The Hurricanes flew into Winnipeg on Saturday night after a 5-4 overtime victory over the Minnesota Wild. Finnish winger Sebastian Aho scored his second goal of the game and fourth of the season at 2:57 of overtime. He also had two assists.
The Hurricanes were just 68 seconds from losing when right winger Justin Williams scored his first goal of the season to force overtime. It was the Hurricanes’ 57th shot on goal. They outshot also the Wild 20-5 in the first period.
“It’s just an attitude, an attitude that we’re never out of it and we can get it done,” Williams said in a postgame interview. “It’s very early, but we’re trending in the right direction and doing a lot of good things. Because of it, we’re racking up some wins.”
The Hurricanes’ 4-0-1 record is the franchise’s best start since it relocated from Hartford to North Carolina in 1997. The last time they opened a season with points in five straight games was in 1994 — when they started 4-0-1 and were still known as the Whalers. They have outscored their opponents 21-13 in the last five games.