Jesperi Kotkaniemi scores twice, Hurricanes beat Jets 5-3
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Jesperi Kotkaniemi had two goals and an assist, Jack Drury scored his first goal of the season and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Jaccob Slavin and Brady Skjei, also scored for the Hurricanes, who’ve endured sudden offensive woes and the loss of a star player during the past week. Kotkaniemi’s second goal of the game was an empty-netter with four seconds left.
“That’s the whole key to everything — how you respond,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “That’s life.”
Frederik Andersen made 21 saves just hours after the Hurricanes announced that All-Star forward Andrei Svechnikov will have surgery for a torn knee ligament and miss the rest of the season.
“The news about Svech is really tough,” Skjei said. “You don’t replace a guy like that. You have to step up now and do a little bit more. Not change their game, but give a little extra.”
Svechnikov was in the forefront of the Hurricanes’ minds.
“I feel awful for Svech,” Drury said. “He’s such a hard worker. He’s just such a great guy. It’s tough for him. I think, as a team, everyone knows we have to step up and can’t let it bring us down.”
Dylan DeMelo, Nikolaj Ehlers and Nino Niederreiter scored for the Jets, whose two-game winning streak ended. David Rittich made 20 saves.
About five minutes after the Jets closed within a goal, Drury put the Hurricanes back up by two with 10:26 remaining in his first game back from the American Hockey League.
Drury hadn’t scored an NHL goal since Dec. 18, 2021.
“He contributed,” Brind’Amour said. “He finished. That’s what we need.”
Niederreiter, a former Hurricane, scored his 22nd goal with 4:22 to play to make it 4-3. It was his fourth goal in eight games since arriving in a trade from Nashville.
“I think he has been a great addition,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “He fits in here and clearly he can play with anybody.”
Slavin’s sixth goal of the season came at 4:37 of the first period, ending the Hurricanes’ stretch of more than 182 minutes without goal that included shutout losses to Vegas and New Jersey.
The Jets were encouraged by their performance.
“We held a high shot-volume team to what, 24, 25 shots on net,” Bowness said.
Svechnikov, the team’s lone All-Star this season, was injured Saturday night against Vegas, and went to New Jersey for a game the next day. He was scratched from that game as the severity of the injury became more apparent. He’ll have reconstructive surgery Thursday on his right anterior cruciate ligament.
A 22-year-old top-line forward, he’s tied for second the team with 55 points and third with 23 goals. He has been a key part of Carolina’s four consecutive playoff berths.
“It’s devastating because everyone loves the guy so much,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s a tough one. … I know how we’re going to respond. We’re going to play our hardest.”
When shown on the overhead scoreboard sitting in the press box during the second period, Svechnikov received a standing ovation.
NOTES: Jets D Josh Morrissey, the team’s second-leading points producer with 67, missed his second game in a row with lower-body injury. … Hurricanes LW Jordan Martinook left briefly after a hit from Winnipeg D Dylan Samberg on the sequence that led to the Jets’ first goal.
Jets: Host Boston on Thursday night.
Hurricanes: At Toronto on Friday night.
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Bob Sutton, The Associated Press