Supersonic Wheeler’s defensive gem saves the day

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THAT'S gotta hurt.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2014 (3025 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THAT’S gotta hurt.

It took many elements for the Winnipeg Jets to claim a 2-1 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche Sunday at the MTS Centre.

An important one came at the north-end net with just one minute left in the extra period.

One of the fastest men in the NHL, at full speed and with great urgency, left his feet to tip a puck away from an opponent in a good position to score.

Blake Wheeler batted that puck away to safety in the corner and the price was a major collision with the Jets’ net, forcing his own goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, to do a barrel-jump for safety.

No goal for Avs’ Ryan O’Reilly and just a few seconds later, Wheeler’s teammates Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little manufactured the winning score.

“I was a little bit lucky, but I hit it,” Wheeler said, referring to the puck he knocked away from his own net. “My head’s fine but I think Pavo might have hit his head harder.

“Thankfully we didn’t hit each other too hard. I was going pretty fast. That was the only thing that was going to stop me, the net, so it was a good, heads-up play by him to get out of the way.”

It was the second narrow escape for the Jets in overtime, and it was a good thing Pavelec got out of the way.

“I was a little bit tired after that, but Pav’s a pretty big boy, and had we run into each other, it might have been a little bit worse,” Wheeler said. “Good that he got out of the way.”

The Jets goalie certainly played a big role in the win, making 22 saves and giving his team a chance to hang around to take the two points.

“It was huge,” Wheeler said. “He made a few big saves. They had a couple of guys behind our D a few times and he stood up and made a couple of big saves. You need big saves to win in this league.

“It’s tough to go 60 minutes and not give up good scoring chances. The other teams get paid to put the puck in the net, too, so he did a good job and stepped up a couple of times when we needed him.”

Defence, Wheeler said, is something the Jets were able to improve and refine and it showed Sunday.

“It was one of those games where both sides just clamped down and played good defence,” he said. “There weren’t a whole lot of scoring chances for or against.

“Scheifs (Mark Scheifele) had his (shot) off the inside of the post there in the third period, and if you get that one to go in you probably get the game.

“So it was nice to see Laddie get a good bounce there. We needed that one.”

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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