Unfair or not, this game was shaping up as an early referendum on just how much progress the Winnipeg Jets are making — and have already made — since Paul Maurice took over as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets.

Three wins in three games were a strong start, but they came against the Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, clubs that were struggling going into those games.

With that in mind, there were still some question marks about where this team stood.

Tuesday’s tilt was going to be more of a measuring stick of sorts, as they usually are when a team goes head-to-head with the top team in the NHL.

And did we mention that in 22 previous games, those Anaheim Ducks had yet to lose in regulation time on home ice?

Well, that sentence no longer applies, as the Jets survived several Southern California flurries and came away with a hard-fought 3-2 over the Ducks at the Honda Center.

Prior to the game, several members of the Jets acknowledged this wasn’t just another January game on the schedule.

With the opportunity to become the first team to knock the Ducks off their lofty perch serving as internal motivation, the Jets actually got the job done.

“We knew it was going to be a tough challenge coming into this building,” said Jets forward Evander Kane. “Our desperation, especially in that third period, was high. Anytime you have 36 blocked shots, it’s a pretty good indication that we did what it took to win.”

Sure, there were some tenuous moments for the Jets and goalie Ondrej Pavelec had to come up with big saves on numerous occasions, the visitors found a way to win a fourth consecutive game under Maurice.

“Yes, our goaltender was a big part of that, but we’re going to pay him. He’s on our team,” said Maurice.

As a result, the Jets moved out of the basement of the Central Division and improved to 23-23-5, with a game against the San Jose Sharks set for Thursday night at The Shark Tank.

The Ducks, meanwhile, are now 20-1-2 at home and are 37-10-5 overall to remain first overall in the NHL.