WINNIPEG – It took until the third period for the chances to turn into goals, but coach Claude Noel liked what he saw as his Winnipeg Jets defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 Wednesday night in their second pre-season meeting.
“I thought we played a good game,” he said.
“It was a little bit slow getting on the board but I thought we had enough chances. It could have been a little different.”
Evander Kane scored twice in the third period, once into an empty net, while Blake Wheeler had another goal in the third as the Jets ran their pre-season record to 3-3-0. Tim Brent had the only goal for Carolina (1-3-0) in the second period.
After the game, Wheeler said he liked playing again on the same line as Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd to renew the chemistry that seemed to develop when they were together last season In Atlanta.
“We wanted to get a couple of games under our belt before Oct. 9 when the real season starts and I think we made a nice step today.”
And Noel liked what his lines produced.
“They played good, they didn’t get rewarded, they did at the end.”
They had plenty of opportunities as the Jets outshot the Hurricanes 38-18. They have one more pre-season game Friday before they meet the Montreal Canadiens in their home opener on Thanksgiving weekend.
The Jets had trouble finding a way past Carolina netminder Brian Boucher, even with six power-play opportunities. Kane connected on one of their last at 10:45 in the third and that seemed to break open the dam. Wheeler scored about a minute later and Kane’s empty-netter went in with just over a half a minute to play.
They lost their last meeting with the Hurricanes in Charlotte 4-0.
“I know they wanted to do better than the game before, but just because you want doesn’t mean you’re going to,” Noel said. “We’ll continue to learn and get better.”
Carolina went 0-for-5 on the power play.
Three Manitobans were playing Wednesday night for their chance to stay in the big league—forwards Jason Gregoire and Troy Bodie and defenceman Derek Meech. A fourth, Winnipeg native Kevin Clark, has already been sent down to the Jets’ farm team in St. John’s, N.L.
“It was nice to get in with closer to a full roster and get action that way. Carolina had a lot of good guys in their roster as well,” said Meech.
“It was a good night to be back at home in Winnipeg,”
It was another sellout of 15,004 but that’s going to be the case every game with the kind of pent-up demand in Winnipeg, which lost the original Jets in 1996 to Phoenix. Tickets are sold out pretty well for the next three years except for a handful of walkups you have to be lucky enough to win a right to buy through a draw.
Noel said he wanted to see if the Jets could match Carolina in speed and overall he liked the effort but he said he knows he has more work to do. He also wants to see everyone on the team step up when it comes to scoring.