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The big picture

It was a homestand, some said, that could very well define the Winnipeg Jets' season. Well, given how tight the Eastern Conference playoff picture is, that proclamation is just a tad premature. But Monday's win over the Sabres means the Jets finished up their eight-game stretch at the MTS Centre with a 5-1-2 record and are very much in the playoff discussion.

The little picture

The win keeps the Jets in eighth place in the conference, now three points clear of Washington and four ahead of the Sabres and Tampa Bay. Just as important, it means they keep the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers in their crosshairs. Florida, idle Monday, is two points ahead of the Jets. Worth noting: seventh-place Ottawa is now only four ahead of Winnipeg.

Game-breaker

The Jets had given up the tying goal with 34.8 seconds left in the second period, but responded in the final 20 minutes. And the critical, game-changing play -- one that energized the Jets and zapped the Sabres -- came on a Blake Wheeler breakaway goal in which he beat Ryan Miller glove side for the winner.

Free Press three stars

1. Bryan Little, C, Wpg. -- Set up all three Jets goals, including a perfect feed to Blake Wheeler for the breakaway winner.

2. Blake Wheeler, RW, Wpg. -- His game-winner had highlight of the night written all over it -- top shelf on Ryan Miller in a dynamite display of finish.

3. Tyler Myers, D, Buff. -- A massive man at 6-foot-8 and a defensive anchor for the Sabres. Their best on a night when the rest of their gang looked gassed at the end of a road trip.

Up next

The Jets travel west for two in two nights beginning Thursday in Vancouver (9 p.m., TSN Jets/TSN Radio) and followed by Friday in Calgary (8 p.m., TSN Jets/TSN Radio).

-- Ed Tait

Summary

FIRST PERIOD

 1. Winnipeg, Ladd 21 (Little) 13:45

 Penalties — None.

 SECOND PERIOD

 2. Buffalo, Tropp 2 (Ellis, Boyes) 19:25

 Penalties — Slater Wpg (boarding) 5:58, Ladd Wpg (hooking) 8:33, Myers Buf (tripping) 14:01.

 THIRD PERIOD

 3. Winnipeg, Wheeler 15 (Little) 8:02 4. Winnipeg, Thorburn 4 (Little, Enstrom) 10:54 Penalties — Roy Buf (hooking) 18:44, Kaleta Buf, Byfuglien Wpg (roughing) 19:53.

 Shots on goal by Buffalo 7 9 8 — 24

Winnipeg 10 8 13 — 31

Goal — Buffalo: Miller (L,22-18-5); Winnipeg: Pavelec (W,25-21-7).

 Power plays (goals-chances) — Buffalo: 0-2; Winnipeg: 0-2.

 Referees — Eric Furlatt, Gord Swyer. Linesmen — David Brisebois, Mike Cvik.

 Attendance — 15,004 (15,004) at Winnipeg.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2012 D3

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