USA TODAY Sports
Ondrej Pavelec had one of his best games of the season, a twenty-nine save performance which culminated in a Winnipeg Jets victory.
What began as a dominant performance deteriorated into a desperate attempt to escape the state of New York with a much needed two points as the Winnipeg Jets barely scraped by, earning a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. The Jets' raced out to an early lead only a minute into the first period after Evander Kane out-muscled two Sabres defenders behind Buffalo's net before finding a wide-open Bryan Little in the slot for his third goal of the year.
The Jets would extend their lead to two goals early in the second, as a deft poke check by Ron Hainsey at the Sabres' blue line found the stick of Andrew Ladd and was then quickly deposited into the net behind Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.
However, with just over twenty seconds remaining in the second period, a Dustin Byfuglien turnover evolved into Jason Pominville's seventh goal of the year during a Sabres 2-on-1 rush, putting a damper on what had up to that point been a very solid road performance for the Jets.
While both teams would trade chances in the third period, Ondrej Pavelec stood tall in his crease, stopping all eleven shots he faced to preserve the Jets' first win in their last four tries.
Winnipeg will now visit the Carolina Hurricanes in their second game of this five game trip.
- Tonight was Ondrej Paevelc's 200th start, which was luckily celebrated with a victory. Credit where credit is due, the Czech punching bag did his job to come out with the win.
- Holy smokes, a quick start for the Jets!? The devil, you say! A great no look pass from Evander Kane to Bryan Little got things rolling early.
- Claude Noel was really looking to shake up the power play and had Olli Jokinen on the point for their sole opportunity of the game. Too bad the Jets didn't get more opportunities to utilize the personnel change.
- Winnipeg's point streak versus Buffalo continues. They are now 4-0-1 in their last five meetings against the Sabres.
- The Jets looked really energized in the first two periods but traded chances for a fair bit of the third. It's unfortunate that the Sabres were able to hang around considering how vastly they were outplayed in the opening frames.
- The fourth line delivered their best effort of the season. If the Jets want to be successful going forward, they will need more of the same from Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn and James Wright. They were a force tonight.
- Speaking of Wright, he collected his first point as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, a secondary assist on Bryan Little's goal to open the game. Congrats!
- How snake bitten is Blake Wheeler right now? I mean, the guy couldn't steal a goal right now if he tried. Six shots on goal and nothing to show for it. Shades of 2011-12 all over again. That said, he had another exceptional performance tonight.
- The penalty kill has been markedly better as of late, and Winnipeg's goaltender has been making the saves he's required to make when down a man.
- Thomas Vanek was a ghost in tonight's game, registering a measly three shots for the Sabres. Obviously keeping Buffalo's leading scorer off the board goes a long way to establishing success.