Hurricanes score 4 on first 9 shots in win over Jets

Carolina Hurricanes Andrej Nestrasil scores two goals and Cam Ward makes 33 saves in the 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

WINNIPEG — Cam Ward admitted he was a little nervous getting back in net after missing six games with a concussion.

His Carolina Hurricanes teammates helped ease him in by racking up four goals on their first nine shots in a 5-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

“Getting off to a 4-0 lead in the first period definitely helped relieve me,” said Ward, who made 33 saves. “I was a little anxious before.”

Andrej Nestrasil scored a pair of goals and Jordan Staal picked up a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes.

Phillip Di Giuseppe and Justin Faulk also netted goals and Joakim Nordstrom added a pair of helpers for Carolina (24-21-8).

Di Giuseppe, Nestrasil and Staal made it 3-0 by 4:33 of the opening period.

Staal’s power-play marker signalled the end of the night for Jets rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck, who had only faced six shots.

Some frustrated fans booed him as he left the ice and cheered when Michael Hutchinson was announced as his replacement, but he let in Faulk’s goal at 10:04 to make it 4-0.

Alexander Burmistrov, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler, who deflected in a Dustin Byfuglien point shot at 13:48 of the third period, attempted the comeback for Winnipeg (22-26-3).

“I think we kind of caught them early and came out strong,” Staal said. “They’re a good team, too, and they made a push back.

“We took a couple of penalties to give them life and that’s how it works in the NHL.”

Jets coach Paul Maurice said his players responded in the right way after finding themselves down 4-0.

“When you are at that moment and things are awful and you’re embarrassed by the way you’re playing, they handled it as best they could and did a hell of a job digging out of a hole,” he said.

Hutchinson, who hadn’t played since a 4-1 loss in Anaheim on Jan. 3, finished with 21 saves.

The loss wrapped up Winnipeg’s season-long, six-game homestand, which only featured one victory. The Jets’ 47 points ties them for last place in the NHL with five other teams.

Winnipeg heads out for a two-game road trip starting in Colorado Saturday. Carolina visits Montreal on Sunday.

“As a team we just need to turn the page and get ready for tomorrow,” Jets defenceman Jacob Trouba said. “We don’t have any time to really dwell on it and feel bad for ourselves.”

Despite the outcome, Trouba was still able to find some positives.

“Obviously we know how important a start is and it was an uphill battle all night tonight,” he said. “To give yourself a chance in these games with these good teams, you can’t really do that and spot them four goals to try to battle back from.

“But in the same breath, I thought we didn’t give up, which is something we can be proud of.”

The Jets came out at a faster, more-aggressive pace to start the second period and it paid off with 1:25 remaining.

Andrew Copp and Chris Thorburn were battling a pair of Hurricanes behind the net when Thorburn poked the puck out front as he was falling and Burmistrov got his sixth goal of the season.

Ladd, who hit the post late in the second period, banged home a rebound with Hurricanes winger Jeff Skinner off for hooking at 9:07 of the third.

Wheeler’s tip on a Byfuglien one-timer off a pass from Nikolaj Ehlers made it 4-3 with 6:12 remaining and had the fans roaring. Ehlers’ assist extended his points streak to six games, with four goals and four assists.

Nestrasil sealed the win with his second goal at 18:40.

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