WINNIPEG — Canes coach Paul Maurice didn't mince words Saturday after a 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
Comparing the game to some of the sloppy, loosely played Canes-Thrashers games of the recent past, Maurice said, "Looked a whole lot like it, eh? About as brutally played as you can possibly play a 60-minute hockey game. We put two games worth of horse-(hockey) play in there and I think they have to be responsible for part of that, too."
Jeff Skinner did have a goal and two assists for the Canes. Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu scored -- Ruutu in the third after being moved to Jokinen's line with Skinner.
After Ruutu's goal made it 5-3 at 8:58, the Canes had their chances on the power play -- and against one of the worst penalty-killing teams in the league in the early season.
"I always felt we were in that game, even with a real rough second period ... I really thought when we made it 5-3 we could still win that game," Maurice said.
But the Canes couldn't score on a brief 4-on-3 power play but also couldn't score with 90 seconds of a 5-on-3. They couldn't score 5-on-4, finishing the game 0-for-7 on the power play.
The Jets gamely held on as goalie Chris Mason, who replaced Ondrej Pavelec less than seven minutes into the game, made critical saves.
"We got to find a way to capitalize on those," Skinner said. "That's the game really.
"I think other than the penalties in the first period we came put pretty hard. We came off it a bit in the second and I think we played pretty good hockey in the third."
Kyle Wellwood's power-play goal with 1.4 seconds left in the first tied the score 2-2 after Jokinen and Skinner had given the Canes a 2-0 lead and chased Pavelec. It energized the Jets, who were facing the Canes for the first time in the regular season and in a Southeast Division game.
"I think that was big mentally for them," Skinner said of Wellwood's late goal.
The Jets had a lot of jump to open the second, with Jim Slater getting off a bullet from the right circle that beat goalie Brian Boucher. Andrew Ladd, who took a puck in the face in the Jets last game, then scored on a shot from the left point, the puck hopping and bouncing and getting past Boucher.
When Evander Kane added another goal, it was 5-2 and the Jets had scored five straight.
"They burned us off the rush," Maurice said of the run of second-period goals.
The Canes appeared to have lost a lot of their fight and bite in the last of their four straight road games, but came out to outshoot the Jets 12-5 in the third and forced five third-period penalties. The Jets, so strong in the second, appeared to be holding on in the third as the sellout crowd at MTS Centre -- including Justin Bieber, a big hockey fan -- was growing anxious.
"In the second period they were a little bit better team," Jokinen said. "Obviously they got that one lucky one. But in the third period we played really good hockey and had some really good chances. Hit the post, had some good looks. But we couldn't find a way to get that goal 5-on-3. We couldn't find a fourth (goal)."
The Jets came into the game near the bottom of the NHL in both power-play percentage and penalty killing, having scored just two power-play goals while allowing six. But they had two power-play goals — Alex Burmistrov with the first -- and killed off every penalty against the Canes.
Maurice decided to go with Boucher in goal after Cam Ward faced 43 shots Friday in the 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.
"I don't think anything was going for him tonight," Maurice said. "We didn't do him any favors. ... But he's a pro and his job was to grind through it tonight."
Maurice said he did not consider pulling Boucher in the second period.
"Cam had seen enough action (Friday) and (Boucher) is a good pro," Maurice said.
With the State Fair ending its run, the Canes (3-3-2) can come back home after a six-day, three-city trip that began in Boston. Carolina faces the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday at the RBC Center and has five of the bext six at home.