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A matter of redemption

Pavelec bounces back from stinker versus Edmonton

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The first part of it can sometimes be painful, but Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec is beginning to take on a label that doesn't sound all that terrible -- a good bounce-back netminder.

The perils of the position were in full view Monday night here when Pavelec and the Jets caved in during the third period against the Edmonton Oilers, losing 5-3.

On Thursday, with that in mind, Pavelec just went back to doing what he does, stopping the puck with an even-keeled approach.

He turned away 33 Florida shots and the Jets crept again closer to the Southeast Division lead with a 7-0 victory over the Panthers.

Along with Monday, Pavelec has had other forgettable nights this season. But more often than not, he shows his teammates he can deliver the redemption game.

"I didn't fear he would get nervous and not play with confidence, but sometimes those types of games (Monday's) get you (with) and unlucky bounce," Jets coach Claude Noel said.

Pavelec's fourth shutout equalled his total last season and his 24th win was a career best. Still, he had not lost sight of Monday's disappointment.

"That's what I was saying before, just be in the middle," the 24-year-old Czech netminder said. "Don't be too high, don't be too low. We know we didn't play well against Edmonton and we knew we'd have to be better.

"I think we prepared really well for this game. Everybody knew it was a huge game for us, especially against Florida. They've played really well against us this year.

"We learned from the last game, especially the third period."

It didn't hurt that his teammates provided some early confidence with two goals in a little more than six minutes to start the game.

It was Pavelec's turn to shine in the second, when the Panthers brought 16 shots.

"I thought he was solid," Noel said. "He really played with poise. A couple of days ago people were asking about Pavelec and how he's matured from the beginning of the year and what's changed.

"He was relaxed. I thought he could see the puck, he battled through and he was well-composed in the game."

In the third, the Jets made it easy on their goalie, rattling the Panthers for five goals.

One of them was Bryan Little's goal off a five-on-one rush, making it 4-0 at 4:35 of the period.

"The guys were on fire in the third period and it was fun to watch," said Pavelec, who's now sixth in minutes played in the NHL this season with 3,120. "I don't think I've ever seen one, a five-on-one. That's a pretty big mistake by them. It was a great play. Nice goal. No chance for the goalie.

"I've seen that a few times in practice. I don't think I've ever seen it in a game. A two-on-oh, three-on-oh, yes, but not a five-on-one."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2012 C2

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