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Jets down Canes 4-2

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It wasn’t the most-complicated game plan, nor particularly unique or inventive.

"Pedal to the metal," the Winnipeg Jets proclaimed in the days following their thrilling 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins and with the Carolina Hurricanes — last in the Eastern Conference and with new coach Kirk Muller desperately working to put a tourniquet on the gushing wound that is their season — up as their next opponent.

So say this after the Jets dominated the Canes 4-2 Friday night in front of another frenzied audience in downtown Winnipeg:

These guys not only kept their right foot on the gas pedal, they dang near hammered the thing right through the floor boards.

As a result the Jets not only improved to 13-11-4, they have now won four straight for the first time for the franchise since November of 2010 and seven of their last eight at MTS Centre. And while they’re not at the front of the pack with NHL front-runners like Minnesota, Chicago, Philly and Pittsburgh, they do have their double blue-painted jalopy weaving through the pack in full chase mode.

"This is a very important win," said centre Tim Stapleton. "We spoke before the game that regardless of anyone’s record or whether they’re making trades (Carolina had shipped Tomas Kaberle to Montreal for Jaroslav Spacek Friday morning), we know it’s the NHL and every team is good. You can’t not respect any one in this league.

"We were ready."

Yes, any concerns head coach Claude Noel may have had before the contest about the Jets getting all fat and sassy with their recent success evaporated inside the first minute. The Jets pounced on a depleted Canes’ club early — they were a man down when leading scorer Jeff Skinner was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms — scoring first for the 12th time this season when Dustin Byfuglien, pinching down low, banked a shot in off Carolina netminder Cam Ward for his sixth of the season. Less than five minutes later Evander Kane scored his 15th when his blast from the boards found net behind a screened Ward as the Jets outshot the visitors 18-7 in the first period.

And they kept the pressure up in the second when Tim Stapleton and Bryan Little scored 72 seconds apart for a 4-0 advantage that chased Ward from the goal in favour of Mike Murphy.

The Canes would score twice in the third on goals by Justin Faulk and Brandon Sutter, but with Chris Mason — making his first start since a Nov. 25 win in Raleigh — steady in the Jets’ net, Winnipeg was able to withstand most of the push-back by Carolina.

"That’s a huge win, especially after the big win against Boston," said Mason. "Sometimes you come into these games thinking a little too high of yourself and I thought the guys did an excellent job of staying even keel, their work ethic was there and we stuck to our gameplan. We’re starting to understand what makes us successful and understanding the right way to play hockey.

"It feels great, personally. When you don’t play, when you don’t get the ice time on a constant basis you always have to deal with those jitters and pre-game butterflies. But once you get in the game they usually disappear. I felt good."

JETCETERA: Randy Jones returned to the Jets lineup after missing 15 games. He took Arturs Kulda’s spot in the lineup. Although it was expected Nik Antropov would be in the lineup, he was a late scratch.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Game preview

Two teams in the midst of a metamorphosis meet Friday in Winnipeg as the surging Jets play host to a Carolina Hurricanes squad just trying to tread water amid some significant changes.

The Jets will make a couple of roster adjustments, activating defenceman Randy Jones and centre Nik Antropov for Arturs Kulda and Carl Klingberg, while veteran Chris Mason will make his first start since last month. And the Hurricanes, who won their first game under new head coach Kirk Muller in Edmonton Wednesday night, also made a deal this morning by sending Tomas Kaberle to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek.

Spacek, 37, is expected to join the Canes in time for tonight’s game at MTS Centre (7:30 p.m.; TSN Jets/TSN Sports Radio) after coming off injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

"I hope so," said Muller after the Canes morning skate in Winnipeg. "We’re a bit down in the numbers, but he’ll be in here tonight and dressed and we’ll throw him right into the fire and be ready to go.

"I know Spac from Montreal (where Muller served as an assistant). He’s going to be a player that is going to give us some minutes five on five. He’s still got a competitive level with him and he’s a great team guy, so he’ll fit in well with this group. For Tomas, I think it’s an opportunity to quarterback a power-play and he’s got some great offence still left in him and he’s got a (Stanley Cup) ring on his finger now so Montreal is getting a good player as well."

Added Canes’ GM Jim Rutherford, who signed Kaberle to a three-year $12.75-million free-agent contract this summer, in an interview with the Raleigh News-Observer: "I should have known better. Tomas is a player who has had a very good career but I should have known better in the sense of where he was in his career. He won the Stanley Cup, he had a short summer and at the start of training camp and the start of the season he was not where he needed to be (physically).

"He has not done as well as expected, just as the team has not done as well as expected. He has played better the last couple of weeks. But to have flexibility next year without his contract is important to us."

The Jets have won three straight to improve to 12-11-4, 12th in the Eastern Conference.

"We’re certainly going to be aware of Carolina," said Jets’ head coach Claude Noel. "The question for me, and I’m well aware of it, is when you go after these emotional wins like Boston (a 2-1 victory Tuesday) and you face Carolina… I’m not taking them lightly, especially after the deal they made today. That will certainly get the attention of the players."

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

History

Updated on Friday, December 9, 2011 at 7:15 PM CST: Adds game preview

8:51 PM: Adds fourth goal

9:11 PM: Updates with second-period wrap

9:50 PM: Adds third period goals

10:37 PM: Adds quotes

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