Wheeler scored his second goal of the game with 4:54 remaining to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Jets rookie defenceman Zach Redmond had surgery to repair a laceration to an artery in his right leg after a teammate accidentally stepped on him during the club's morning skate.
"You can't really put it into words what goes through your mind when a teammate is hurt like that on the ice," Wheeler said. "I think all you can really do is just try to channel those emotions into going out and putting your best foot forward and trying to win for one of your teammates."
Wheeler scored his go-ahead goal by speeding in on a partial breakaway after Carolina defenceman Joe Corvo slipped near the blue line and beat goalie Cam Ward. Wheeler's goal concluded a stretch where the teams scored three goals in a span of 1:03 in the third period.
Jiri Tlutsy scored twice for Carolina while Jordan Staal also scored for the Hurricanes, who have lost two in a row after a 5-0-1 streak.
Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane also scored for Winnipeg and Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves. Ladd also had two assists.
The Jets have won the first two games of a five-game road trip after losing three in a row at home.
"It was big just to find a way to win," Wheeler said. "It wasn't necessarily our 'A' game. ... That's the way you get the job done in this league. You've got to find a way to win when you don't have your best game."
Redmond's injury occurred near the end of practice when Redmond tripped and landed on his back. The teammate then stepped on Redmond with his skate, opening a sizeable wound in Redmond's mid-thigh region — cutting the femoral artery.
Redmond was rushed to the hospital and underwent a three-hour operation, the team said. The Jets added that Redmond was resting comfortably and will be out indefinitely.
"It was just a really bad feeling seeing a teammate in pain and sitting on the ice like that," Ladd said. "It's not something you ever want to see."
Ladd had given Winnipeg a 3-2 lead at 14:03 of the third after Ward failed to snag a floating puck and then whiffed on an attempt to clear it from the front of the net.
Tlutsy answered 47 seconds later on a quick shot from the slot. Wheeler's go-ahead goal came 16 seconds after Tlutsy's goal.
Kane gave the Jets a brief 2-1 lead at 2:10 of the third period, snapping a wrist shot from a sharp angle that eluded Ward's glove.
Staal tied it 1:27 later when the puck bounced to him in the slot. Staal's shot deflected off the skate of a Winnipeg defenceman and got past Pavelec.
The Jets opened the scoring at 1:53 of the first when Wheeler beat Ward blocker side on a harmless-looking wrist shot from the right boards. Ward couldn't handle it, however, and the puck went off the post and into the net.
"I'm sure he's going to look at a couple of them and probably feels like he had an opportunity to make a couple more saves there," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said of Ward.
Carolina tied the score at 18:39 of the first period on a nifty play by Alexander Semin.
Eric Staal won the puck along the boards and found Semin, who was in front of the net to Pavelec's left. Semin then spun and passed the puck through a pair of legs to Tlutsy, who knocked it into the open net.
Both teams had two-man advantages in the second period, but neither could take advantage. Winnipeg entered the game with the worst penalty killing unit in the NHL; Carolina had the league's second worst.
Carolina was without regulars Joni Pitkanen (lower body), Tim Gleason (lower body), Jeff Skinner (concussion) and Jamie McBain (upper body).
NOTES: Defenceman Ryan Murphy made his NHL debut for Carolina after the Hurricanes recalled him from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League on an emergency basis. Murphy was Carolina's first pick in the 2011 draft. ... Winnipeg's Ladd played in his 500th NHL game. Ladd began his career in Carolina.