WINNIPEG, MANITOBA – The Carolina Hurricanes remained winless following a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Tuesday.
Jiri Tlusty was the lone scorer for Carolina, posting his fourth goal of the season, while goaltender Anton Khudobin made 23 saves in the losing effort.
In facing off in the first of two games that the teams will play against one other this season, it was Winnipeg that took the early lead, scoring two goals 40 seconds apart to put Carolina behind 2-0 just 2:47 into it.
“The start wasn’t obviously what we were looking for at all,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said.
“I thought we got away from it for a little bit, we got away from our structure, freelancing, and then it just made it harder than it needs to be.”
Tlusty managed to put in a rebound on the power play at 7:03 and kept the Hurricanes close, trailing 2-1 following the first period.
Riley Nash and Chris Terry earned assists on the goal, the team’s lone conversion on five man-advantage attempts on the night.
Carolina forward Jeff Skinner made his season debut after a preseason concussion injury kept him from playing in the team’s first four games.
After the Hurricanes earned points in consecutive shootout losses to New York (2-1) and Buffalo (4-3), it was hoped the addition of the young scorer back into the lineup would help to boost the team’s offense.
However, Skinner’s contribution on the score sheet, aside from a team-high five shots on goal, focused more on penalties rather than goal scoring as roughing and high sticking infractions kept him off the ice – a place where Peters would have rather seen him.
“Good to have him back, but we need Jeff Skinner,” Peters said.
“People think you’re gonna’ parachute into a lineup and be a star. That’s not the way it works. We need him to get assertive and play responsibly. A couple of O-zone penalties we could probably live without.”
With ample time for Carolina to work to even the score, Winnipeg’s Dustin Bfyuglien pushed the margin further apart after taking advantage of a Justin Faulk misplay at the Winnipeg blue line that sent the forward in all alone on Khudobin to extend the lead to 3-1 at 16:26 of the second period.
Both teams played to a scoreless third period, but it was enough to earn Winnipeg the win and left Carolina as the lone team in the NHL still seeking to win its first game of the season.
Playing with a lineup that didn’t include injured forwards Eric Staal, Nathan Gerbe, and Patrick Dwyer, along with defenseman John-Michael Liles, the Hurricanes bench boss was clear on what his team needed to do in playing three more games on the road in the next seven nights.
“It’s gonna’ take responsible play by all 18 guys,” Peters said.
“So, everyone’s gotta’ be on the same page, everyone’s gotta’ be hungry in order for it to happen…We’re not happy with our team game. We’ve gotta’ get off to a good start and play a full 60 minutes.”
Carolina travels next to face the Calgary Flames on Thursday in the first of a back-to-back set that will then take them to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Friday, and eventually on to Vancouver to end their Western Canadian swing next Tuesday.