WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Carolina Hurricanes scored three goals in the second period and held on for a 3-2 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night at MTS Centre.
Badly outplayed in a scoreless first period but buoyed by the brilliant play of goalie Cam Ward, the Hurricanes finally got their legs after the Jets opened the scoring in the second period and potted three goals of their own to jump ahead 3-1.
Rebounding from a tough 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks the night before, Carolina (31-31-9) received goals from centers Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Riley Nash in less than three minutes of play to lead through 40 minutes.
Center Bryan Little scored just 1:27 into the final frame to pull the Jets (32-31-9) to within a goal, but that's as close as they got.
The Jets nearly scored on a mad scramble with less than 30 seconds left. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and left winger Evander Kane both had whacks at the puck in the crease, but Ward snuffed out the chances.
Winnipeg center Jim Slater, a new father after the birth of his daughter earlier in the week, tipped in a point shot at 7:48 of the first period for his first goal of the season.
Just 37 seconds later, center Eric Staal scored his 17th goal of the year. He buried a shot after Winnipeg starter Al Montoya went roaming behind his net and couldn't scramble back in time.
Younger brother Jordan got into the act with his 15th goal of 2013-14 on a breakaway at 10:10, taking a perfect feed from blue-liner Andrej Sekera and ripping a shot high over Montoya's blocker.
Just 78 seconds later, center Nash made it 3-1 with his ninth tally of the season, banking the puck off the heel of Montoya's skate and across the goal line.
Carolina outshot the Jets 21-8 in the second.
Ward made three excellent saves in the opening period, including one off Little that might go down as the stop of the season. Caught far to the left side of his net, Ward lunged across and blocked what looked like a sure goal with the paddle of his stick, causing Little to gaze to the rafters in disbelief.
Two minutes later, Ward snuffed out a wraparound try by center Eric O'Dell that likely should have gone in, too.
Overall, Ward made 33 saves for just his ninth victory of the season.
Montoya stopped 29 shots in his fourth consecutive game in goal for the Jets, in place of injured starter Ondrej Pavelec.
Pavelec is expected to be available during next week's crucial five-game, eight-day southern road trip against some of the NHL's legitimate heavyweights. As the Jets fight for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, they head to Dallas to face the Stars on Monday and then visit San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim before wrapping up the trip April 1 in Phoenix.
The Hurricanes host the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
NOTES: Carolina completed its 18th of 20 sets of back-to-back games this season. After a loss to Chicago on Friday, the club is 9-8-1 in the openers and 5-10-3 in the back halves. ... Winnipeg was caught with too many men on the ice twice in the game. ... Jets D Zach Bogosian, C Jim Slater and RW Dustin Byfuglien missed Wednesday's 5-4 OT victory over Colorado. But all three returned to the lineup Saturday night, prompting the club to return a pair of centers, Patrice Cormier and John Albert, to the St. John's IceCaps of the AHL. Bogosian didn't last the entire game, suffering an upper-body injury in the second period. ... Hurricanes C Manny Malhotra entered the game second in the NHL in faceoff efficiency, winning 58.9 percent of draws he'd taken. He trailed only St. Louis Blues LW Vladimir Sobotka (61.4). ... Winnipeg bench boss Paul Maurice coached the Hurricanes for 775 games during parts of 11 seasons, from 1997-98 to 2003-04 and again from 2008-09 to 2011-12. He guided them to the Stanley Cup final in 2002, losing to Detroit in five games. ... C Eric Staal is just three assists shy of 400 for his career, played entirely with Carolina.