Looking quite rested, Ondrej Pavelec said he didn't feel like he turned in a 33-save night.
That's what the scoreboard read as the final horn sounded on the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 shutout win over the Phoenix Coyotes at MTS Centre Thursday night, though, as the 24-year-old stopped all 33 pucks directed at him for his second shutout of the season and his first win in four tries.
"They had a lot of shots from outside," the Jets goaltender told reporters after the game. "I didn't feel like they had 33 shots. As soon as they crossed the red-line they threw the puck on me. The guys did a great job to allow me to see the puck. Outstanding effort... team effort."
That showing Pavelec gushed about was the answer the Jets were looking for following a disappointing 6-4 loss to Ottawa earlier in the week.
In that Tuesday affair, the Winnipeg defence was a permeable membrane, allowing the opposition to walk in and take their best crack at Pavelec both on the power play and at even strength.
There was none of that loose defensive play against the Coyotes. Yes, the Jets defence did allow 33 shots on goal but only a handful of those were legitimate scoring chances on the Winnipeg cage.
Pavelec said he was hoping to get the start Thursday.
"It's always important after you don't play well, especially me," offered Pavelec, who made an early save on forward Kyle Turris in the first period that set the tone for the contest. "I didn't play well in the Ottawa game and it was great that I had a chance to play again."
The Senators game notwithstanding, Pavelec has been on top of his craft in the last few outings.
The win brings his personal record to 8-9-4 and lowers his goals against average to 3.14 but more importantly, the shutout pushes his save percentage above the 90 per cent mark (.902) for the first time this year.
"It's kind of what we expect from him now," forward Blake Wheeler said. "He's been on quite a roll lately. It doesn't seem like much beats him clean. If he's going to get beat, it's going to be something wacky like a tip or screen."
As mentioned off the top, Pavelec credits the improved play to the team effort in front of him, a point that's not lost on head coach Claude Noel.
What really impressed the coach was the way his defence remained patient throughout the entire contest; holding a one-goal lead is tough for a team to manage at times, given the way the power plays are handed out in the NHL these days, so staying cool with the puck and not taking any unnecessary chances takes a certain discipline.
Though they didn't blow the Coyotes out scoring-wise, Noel was pleased with Winnipeg's overall defensive effort.
"We've lacked is consistency and we've had (bad) spurts in our game," the coach added. "Tonight, we didn't have those spurts.
"As far as an overall 60-minute game, I think this is one of the better games we played. I thought we defended well... we played the game that was in front of us."