WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) The Winnipeg Jets and Carolina Hurricanes both made moves in the offseason in search of a No. 1 goaltender. The Hurricanes found theirs, while the Jets answer was seemingly right there all along.
The Jets are 3-0 in games Hellebuyck starts after going 0-2 in front of Steve Mason, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason as the supposed answer to the Jets' need for a veteran starter.
Yet it's been Hellebuyck, the third-year pro who started 56 games last season, who has steadied the ship. Since giving up 13 goals in their first two games, the Jets have allowed five goals in the last three.
''I've been working all summer for this,'' Hellebuyck said. ''You can see the guys blocking shots, working really hard, really grinding the other team down, keeping everything to the outside. I've been saying it the last three games and it's been true every single game: I think the guys in front of me have been playing outstanding.''
''We just found a way to win a hockey game against a team that hadn't lost a regulation game and had played solid hockey,'' Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. ''I'm not here trying to convince anybody that was well played. That game was going to be played like that, was going to look like that, with these two teams and the style of play.''
Ehlers's goal was well timed for the Jets, who were in need of an offensive boost after a second-period drought in which they mustered just four shots on goal.
Winnipeg drew first when Little scored his first of the season 13:33 into the opening frame. Patrik Laine gained the zone and had the puck slide off his stick to Ehlers, who centered it to the high slot. Little was waiting there to slide a shot along the ice and past Darling.
The Hurricanes didn't take long to respond, with Skinner putting away a power-play goal 1:45 later. Skinner, in the circle to the right of the goal, snapped a shot over the shoulder of goalie Connor Hellebuyck and under the crossbar to make it 1-1.
Carolina clamped down in the second period, allowing just four Winnipeg shots.
Hellebuyck stopped 28 shots to win his third straight game since starting the season behind Steve Mason on the depth chart. Hellebuyck did well to preserve the win, flashing a glove-hand save on a wide-open slap shot from Jaccob Slavin with 1:35 to play that drew a loud ovation from the home crowd.
Darling, making his first road start as the Hurricanes No. 1 goalie, made 19 saves. Acquired from Chicago, Darling has started all three games for the Hurricanes instead of Cam Ward, the man who has been locked in as the top netminder for Carolina for the better part of the past 12 seasons.
''He gives us a chance every night,'' said Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters. ''There he is again tonight, two goals against. It's a race to three in the National Hockey League. You've gotta be able to get to three to get a point, if not two points, and we didn't do that here.''
NOTES: The Jets won despite facing four penalties, three of which they killed off. Winnipeg came into the game with one of the league's worst percentages when a man down, having surrendered five goals in 17 such situations. ... Saturday marked the first time in three outings a Hurricanes game was decided in regulation. Carolina's first two games each went to an extra period, with a season-opening shootout win over Minnesota being followed by an overtime loss Tuesday against Columbus.
Hurricanes: Play at Edmonton on Tuesday night.
Jets: Host Columbus on Tuesday night.
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