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This article was published 6/4/2015 (2387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
ST. PAUL, MINN. — He's still sick enough that the colour has gone from his skin and the bags under his eyes are a clear indication his sleep patterns are suffering.
But it seems Ondrej Pavelec still has plenty enough game of late to help launch the Winnipeg Jets right back into the Western Conference playoff picture. The veteran Czech netminder was brilliant Monday night at Xcel Energy Center, kicking out all 32 shots he faced to backstop the Jets to a 2-0 win over the Minnesota Wild that pushes them past the idle Calgary Flames into a Wild Card spot with just three games remaining.
Yes, hang on tight, Jets fans... this race is only going to get more interesting.
Winnipeg is now 41-26-12 and, with 94 points, are one ahead of the Calgary Flames and now just two back of the Wild, who fell to 44-27-8.
And with the finish line now in sight — the Jets are in St. Louis Tuesday and Denver Thursday before wrapping up at home Saturday against the Flames — they will need some heroes to emerge for the final push.
Enter Pavelec, who was so sick on the weekend he was able to digest just three bananas before the win over Vancouver.
"I’m OK... OK to play," said Pavelec. "I don’t want to give out any details. I haven’t felt very good lately, but that doesn’t matter.
"I’m good enough to play."
Pavelec shook off three so-so outings lately — he was 1-2 in games against Chicago, the New York Rangers and the Canucks with a .856 save percentage — to stone the Wild to earn his third shutout of the season. He has now started 10 of the Jets' last 11 games and will be in the net again Tuesday in St. Louis.
Said Jets coach Paul Maurice when asked who would start against the Blues:
"I got my goalie. I’ve got our guy. He played a hell of a game tonight."
Big start, bigger finish
The Jets opened the scoring less than five minutes in, courtesy of a fortuitous bounce that saw Marco Scandella tip a Blake Wheeler pass/shot past Devan Dubnyk. That marked the 48th time this season — and third consecutive game — the Jets have opened the scoring. Now, while there were some iffy moments in the third, the Jets were able to close the game out with a complete effort across the board. As Maurice is wont to say, every Jet had a piece in the club’s 41st win.
"Everybody was involved," said Maurice. "We used the whole bench here tonight. The games with Minnesota have all been like that, it’s kind of a deflection or a break around the net. Big penalty killing, special teams, but at the end of it, maybe it was our discipline. We played a real smart hockey game and stayed out of the scrums and played a real disciplined game."
Two D-men down, two step up
The Jets were without both Toby Enstrom (upper-body injury) and Dustin Byfuglien (serving the second of his four-game suspension), taking two minutes-gobbling men from their D corps. Jay Harrison came out of the press box Saturday to replace Byfuglien and Ben Chiarot, who missed 17 games with a hand injury, stepped in for Enstrom against the Wild.
Neither will be compared to Byfuglien and Enstrom, but they were effective against the Wild. Chiarot, paired with Tyler Myers, played 15 minutes and 52 seconds while Harrison, working again with Adam Pardy, finished at 13:10, including a stretch on the power-play.
"That’s the story of our team this year, right?" said Wheeler of players stepping in and contributing. "We’ve dealt with it before. We’ve been missing big pieces to our corps all year, and for whatever reason it seems to bring out the best in us."