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Pavs knows what it takes to finish right

His 100th victory notched, he wants to keep it going

NEWARK. N.J. -- On the night he hit an NHL milestone, Ondrej Pavelec was more interested in getting to the next game than analyzing his 100th career victory.

In conversation about the 3-1 triumph over the New Jersey Devils Monday night, the 26-year-old puck-stopper from the Czech Republic actually revealed how shaky his own team's confidence has been in close games lately.

Jets' Ondrej Pavelec (31) and Evander Kane celebrate after beating the Devils in Newark, N.J., Monday.

BILL KOSTROUN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jets' Ondrej Pavelec (31) and Evander Kane celebrate after beating the Devils in Newark, N.J., Monday.

Winnipeg Jets' defenceman Dustin Byfuglien squashes New Jersey Devils' Steve Bernier in the second period.

BILL KOSTROUN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' defenceman Dustin Byfuglien squashes New Jersey Devils' Steve Bernier in the second period.

The Jets were on a four-game losing slide coming into this game, and three of those games could have been victories. Two were lost in shootouts and two went down the tubes thanks to opponents' goals in the waning minutes of regulation time.

'We were able to kill the penalties (two for two) and we blocked a lot of shots (14). And we managed the game real well'

-- Ondrej Pavelec

So what went better on Monday night, in a game the Jets led from late in the first period onward?

"Oh, don't ask me that," Pavelec said, putting his head into his hands.

Not that he was nervous about talking about his teammates generally, but he just didn't feel like reliving a tough 10 days.

But after a pause, he forced out the right answer, right because he pointed to exactly the things the Jets did Monday against the Devils to make a difference.

"We were able to kill the penalties (two for two) and we blocked a lot of shots (14)," Pavelec said. "And we managed the game real well. It was awesome, those blocks. That's great. We did the things necessary to win the game.

"That's how you want to play."

But the Jets' No. 1 goalie was already looking forward to the team's next challenge on this six-game trip -- Wednesday night against the Islanders.

"It was a good start," Pavelec said. "It's always important how you start a road trip. But it's only one and we have a lot of hockey in front of us.

"We have to focus on the next one. Take the positives and take the next one."

In Monday's third period, the Devils put on their big surge and did get close with Patrik Elias's tip-in goal with 9:16 to play. Pavelec kind of rolled his eyes, meaning it was exactly the kind of push he was expecting.

"Look at the lineup, what they have," he said. "That's a pretty good hockey team -- Jagr, Elias, Zubrus, those guys can score the goals. Two-nothing doesn't mean anything in this league.

"You've got to be careful and you've got to be focused to the end."

As is the case just about everywhere as the season moves toward its mid-point, there are many questions about the upcoming Olympic Games. Pavelec is a strong contender to play for his country.

"Of course I want to make the team and play my best and we'll see what happens," he said Monday. "But really, I don't think about it right now. It's two months away."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 26, 2013 D2

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