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.