Justin Williams made a grand return for the Carolina Hurricanes, and now he'll be looking to do even more after his much-anticipated season debut following an abbreviated retirement came with quite a bit of fanfare.
Williams delivered the decisive tally in his first game of the season in a shootout Sunday against the New York Islanders, so he already has proven valuable.
"Just trust yourself, trust your ability, trust your instincts and go get it," Williams said. "That's what got me here. That's what will get me going further."
Next the Hurricanes take on the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night in Raleigh, N.C. It will be Carolina's last game until Jan. 31 because of the All-Star break.
Williams, a former team captain, returned earlier this month and worked his way into the lineup for the first time against the Islanders. It was his 1,245th career regular-season game, ranking fourth among active NHL players on that list.
"I was nervous the whole game," Williams said. "Thankful for the opportunity to take a penalty shot."
The shootout conversion was his first since Nov. 27, 2013, but it marked his fifth career shootout-deciding goal.
"I just tried to get involved in the game," Williams said. "Butterflies are going, but you need to settle yourself down. ... It was fun and we got what we wanted -- two points. And we got another (game) before the break."
Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour was pleased with Williams' solid showing.
"He certainly didn't look out of place," Brind'Amour said. "I expected him to be a little more rusty, just the pace because that was a fast game. But he fit right in. He put in the work and it showed."
Williams said he'll calm down after a few games.
"There's always a period where you're going on adrenalin and I think these first few games I'm going to go on adrenalin," Williams said, "and then I'll be on my way to being the player I know I can be."
Brind'Amour said he'll have to continue to monitor Williams' minutes "but I don't want to put too much on him yet."
The Hurricanes snapped a three-game losing streak with Sunday's victory. Carolina has gone five consecutive games without scoring more than two goals.
Winnipeg has lost two games in a row by a combined score of 12-3, including Sunday's 5-2 setback at Chicago. The Jets have two team points across their last five games.
"I like the idea if we go out and get a jump on a team," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We're slow out of the gate, for sure."
Winnipeg lost Adam Lowry to a first-period injury during the Chicago game, although Maurice said he's waiting for an update on the center's status.
Maurice is just hoping his team won't make things too complicated.
"There's a lot of simplicity that can come into our game and make us more effective," Maurice said. "It's a challenge for us right now."
Maurice spent two stints as coach of the Hurricanes, so he will have another return to Raleigh.
This is the middle game of a three-game trip across four nights for the Jets, who go to Columbus on Wednesday night.
Carolina won 6-3 at Winnipeg on Dec. 17.
--Field Level Media