Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blooper aside, Pavs solid

Bounces back from first-period gaffe to stand tall

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Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec eyes the loose puck as Leafs forward Phil Kessel closes in, looking to gain possession.

NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec eyes the loose puck as Leafs forward Phil Kessel closes in, looking to gain possession.

TORONTO -- His growing legion of doubters assuredly rolled their eyes and entrenched their lack of faith in Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec when he misplayed a puck into a Toronto goal by Nazem Kadri in Saturday's first period.

 

Pavelec, however, did not give up on himself -- even though he appeared to give up on that particular play -- and certainly gave a commendable account of himself the rest of the way.

He permitted the Leafs no more goals and his teammates rallied to dispatch Toronto without much stress in the third period, a 4-2 decision.

The highly criticized Jets goalie ended the night with 23 saves, 17 of them over the final two periods.

The play in question was a power-play dump-in he tried stop behind his own net. The puck wobbled off his stick and its momentum was carrying it towards the left post with clearly enough steam to go dangerously in front of the goal line.

Pavelec, for his part, seemed to glance at the puck and not recognize the danger, as he casually rounded the net from the other side, far too late to stop Kadri from flicking it in for a 2-1 Toronto lead.

"I think we started our PK really well and it was just a bad bounce," said Pavelec, now with a 22-26-7 record this season. "I was thinking too much ahead, where I'm going to put the puck, and it was a terrible goal. You have no choice but to bounce back.

"You see the guys, how hard they battled and they helped me a lot tonight. It wasn't easy, but in the second, we spent a lot of time in their zone and I didn't have much work. But that's the goal I shouldn't let in."

While the goalie took ownership of the mistake, he said his teammates were unanimous in encouraging him and helping him to rally on Saturday.

"It was all positive," Pavelec said. "One hundred per cent. The guys have been great. For me, between the first and second, it was about bouncing back and to forget. It was one goal and at the end of the day it could be the difference, but I believe that the guys are going to score some goals for me and they did."

Jets captain Andrew Ladd said he didn't worry about the terrible goal.

"It's something that we're learning, the power of the bench and the energy that comes from there," he said. "Whenever you have a goal like that, it's an unfortunate mishap. Stuff like that happens, you want to rally on that bench and be positive and understand that the next shift is extremely important in terms of getting some momentum back, and I think we did that, a good job of that tonight.

"I think there's the original shock that it happened, but after a couple of seconds you regroup and get back to work."

Pavelec said that despite being out of the playoffs -- again -- the Jets are not just sloughing off the final games of the season and that Saturday's game provided proof from every player.

"We talked before the game about how important it was, for our group," Pavelec said. "It was a huge game for (the Leafs), but I think it was a great effort. We scored some great goals, battled in their zone and we didn't give up, made good plays and won the game.

"I'll stay positive and we'll see."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 6, 2014 B2

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