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Jets drop Penguins for first victory

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Some things you can plan for — urgency and awareness, for instance — and some things you cannot.

So when Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Zbynek Michalek fell down right after the opening faceoff, the Winnipeg Jets saw their opening to turn the tide on the ugliness of their 0-3 start.

It took Kyle Wellwood just eight seconds to finish off the three-on-one created by Michalek’s faux pas and Tanner Glass scored later in the first period as the Jets put up the first win of their new Winnipeg era, a 2-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Penguins before 15,004 wild fans at the MTS Centre.

"I usually feel that way, that there’s lots of hockey left," Glass said of Wellwood’s quick goal. "At the same time, when you’re at home with this crowd the way they are right now, the frenzy they stir up in the stands, it’s good to get the first one and get to a lead."

The decibel level in the rink grew as the scoreless third period wore on, finally ending with a deafening roar and the fourth or fifth standing ovation of the night.

"It was awesome for us," said Jets captain Andrew Ladd. "It was nice for us to finally deliver a win for these fans who have been waiting so long to have that feeling and excitement about this team.

"I think the feeling in this room after is a little bit of relief and now we can be excited about tomorrow and move on."

More than one of the standing ovations were for Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who made 27 saves against some high-quality chances on Monday.

His quick reflexes stopped in-alone chances by Steve Sullivan, Richard Park and Pascal Dupuis and the only shot that beat him, a point shot late in the second from Michalek, he had little chance to block, given that Penguins forward Matt Cooke was delivering a sold cross-block just in front of the blue paint.

"We knew they’re missing two of the best players (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin) in the NHL, probably, but they still have a really good team," Pavelec said. "I just try to help the team every night. Sometimes it goes different ways. But it’s always about the goalies, I would say.

"It’s my job. But it’s a team game and you win as a team and to have success, you need everybody in the dressing room to play the best hockey and tonight we showed we can beat the best teams.

"We played so hard tonight and we deserved to win."

Another player helping pilot the Jets on Monday was second-year pro Alexander Burmistrov, who’s still just 19.

He set up both goals, and the assist on Glass’s showed big-league vision.

"He’s really picked up his game. He’s just getting better. I thought he was really strong tonight," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "You can tell that the year he spent in the NHL, though he may have been young for the league, he’s really learned."

Burmistrov said the Jets felt the pressure of their lousy start.

"There’s a lot of pressure on us," he said. "We had lost three games in a row and we knew were were going to have to make our fans happy.

"I liked the way it went. It was a tough game and we battled all the time in all the zones."

Noel said that after three losses, he decided to meet with the team’s leaders, including Ladd, Mark Stuart, Chris Thorburn, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey and Johnny Oduya.

"I just asked them what was going to on, what was the feeling of the team," he said. "They talked about some different things. There was some chaos in different areas for them so we cleared up the chaos and moved forward.

"One of the things you want to do when you meet with the leaders is you want to be able to have dialogue. If you say something you don’t like, you better make sure you’re not pouncing on them because you won’t have dialogue again, whether you agree or don’t agree.

"So it was good."

So was his team on Monday.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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Coverage of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Winnipeg Jets NHL contest

History

Updated on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 7:57 PM CDT: Fixes scoring play

8:17 PM: Adds Jets' second goal

9:13 PM: Updatess with score after two periods

October 18, 2011 at 7:48 AM: Picture added

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