When Elias Lindholm scored Sunday for the Carolina Hurricanes, he quickly cast his eyes to the heavens.
At first, for a few milliseconds, Lindholm wasn’t sure if the puck was in the net. For the first 16 games of the season, nothing had gone in for the Swedish forward.
But Lindholm got his first one Sunday. So did defenseman Noah Hanifin. And center Victor Rask added to his growing collection as the Canes topped the Winnipeg Jets 3-1 at PNC Arena to run their winning streak to four games in ending a successful homestand.
It was a game that was entertaining, that had a little of everything. Goalie Cam Ward won again for the Canes, continuing his November to remember. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck was the Jets’ best player much of the game, facing 40 shots.
Lindholm had gone the first 16 games of the season hunting his first goal, shooting and waiting. But he walked out of the corner with the puck Sunday and blasted a shortside shot past Hellebuyck for a 1-0 lead in the first period.
“I didn’t really believe it at first,” Lindholm said, smiling. “Then I saw the crowd standing and cheering. It was nice to see it go in.”
Lindholm looked upward after scoring, a look of sudden joy on his face.
What was flashing through his mind?
“I don’t even know,” Lindholm said, still smiling. “I think I blacked out. It was such a relief to get the first one.”
Rask and Hanifin both scored on power plays as the Canes (7-6-4) had a decided edge on special teams. Rask’s goal, at 2:39 of the third period, made it 2-0 and Hanifin’s score with 1:43 left in regulation was the clincher.
The game took on darker, chippy tone after the Canes’ Brock McGinn walloped Tony Enstrom with a big, forechecking hit seven minutes into the second period. It was a clean hit but the Jets took offense.
“That got us going, picked up the pace,” Hanifin said.
The penalty-box doors swung open often after that as roughing, cross-checking and high-sticking penalties were called.
The Canes’ Jordan Staal hit and was hit, although Jets rookie Patrik Laine may regret taking a run at Staal, taking the brunt of the blow. At one point, Scheifele went off, cross-checking everyone in a Canes jersey, or so it seemed.
Rask scored his eighth of the season when Jeff Skinner got off a shot, then Lee Stempniak collected the rebound and made a nice pass to Rask in the slot.
Mark Scheifele’s goal at 9:33 of the third pulled the Jets within 2-1, rekindling memories of the season opener in Winnipeg. The Canes led 4-1 with 15 minutes left in regulation at MTS Centre only to lose 5-4 in overtime on a Scheifele goal.
But the Canes’ penalty killers got the job done down the stretch, killing off a penalty against Viktor Stalberg. The Jets, 0-3 on the power play, did come within inches of tying the score on a shot by Jacob Trouba, the puck bouncing over Ward and near the post before the Canes’ Joakim Nordstrom knocked it away.
A high-sticking call against Laine, who got the stick up on Justin Faulk, led to Hanifin’s goal.
“It was a fun game tonight, old-school hockey,” Hanifin said. “They played physical, but we matched it. We didn’t back down, we kept playing our game.”
The Jets (9-10-2) were playing the third of five straight road games, and a day after a 4-1 beating by the Boston Bruins.
“They’re beat up, they’re sore, they’re tired,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said of his team. “They played as hard as they could, gave what they had.”
The Canes now go on the road for the next three games and nine of the next 11. But they’ll do it off their first four-game home winning streak since January 2015.
“If we continue to play the way we’ve been playing, we all know we can play with anybody in this league,” Hanifin said.