The Jets wrapped up the eight-game homestand in style beating the Buffalo Sabres, 3-1 Monday night at the MTS Centre to hold onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Of a possible 16 points, the Jets came away with 12 total.
"The homestand was productive for us in a lot of ways," said coach Claude Noel. "Mostly to build self-esteem in our game and trust that we can play a low scoring game and that we can defend and do all the things that we talk about. It's coming through and we're finally able to see it."
Bryan Little played assist man tonight as he recorded the first assist on all three of the Jets goals tonight and earned the first star of the game.
Andrew Ladd opened the scoring in the first period. Blake Wheeler net a beautiful breakaway, top-shelf goal in the third and Chris Thorburn tallied a nifty second-effort goal later in the third to seal the deal.
"The scouting report has been that Miller is unbeatable," said Wheeler. "But if you're going to beat him, you have to go over the shoulder. You always feel fortunate scoring on a goalie like him, he's probably the best in the league right now. You have to take a little bit of luck out of that but we feel good it went our way tonight."
Corey Tropp was the lone goal scorer for Buffalo, as he slid one past Pavelec with 35 seconds left in the second period tying the game, 1-1.
Ryan Miller stopped 28 of 31 shots on goal while Pavelec stopped 23 of 24.
The Jets head West to play the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night followed by the Calgary Flames on Friday before returning to Winnipeg for three.
Both teams were off to a good start with a few good chances in the early goings but with two hot goaltenders, the game remained scoreless through the first 16 minutes.
The Jets drew first blood at 13:45, as Bryan Little was streaking up ice along the right boards and into the Sabres zone. He fired a wrister on net from the circle that bounced off of Ryan Miller and out into the slot. Andrew Ladd was there to scoop up the rebound and net his 21st of the season to make it 1-0 Jets. Ladd's goal marked his 50th career goal with the Jets franchise.
Grant Clitsome had a strong first period with the Jets playing 5:39 of ice-time in seven shifts. He had one hit, one blocked shot and one shot on net that came on a great scoring chance from the slot.
After twenty minutes, the Jets were up by a goal and led 10-7 in shots on net.
Jim Slater took the game's first penalty at 5:58 of the second period as he was caught for boarding. The penalty-kill unit was able to erase that two-minute minor but just as the penalty expired, Ladd was sent to the box for hooking. The Jets managed to kill the back-to-back penalties and as Ladd was breaking out of the box, he jumped into the rush and as his linemates peeled off for a change, four Sabres jerseys closed in on him breaking toward the net. His nifty hands allowed him to sneak through and fire a shot on net, but just missed.
Corey Tropp tied the game for the Sabres with 35 seconds remaining in the period. Matt Ellis took the initial shot that hit the post and stayed out but Brad Boyes was there to dig it out and hand it to Tropp to bank the loose puck off Pavelec and across the line.
After two periods, the Jets and Sabres were tied 1-1 and the Jets were still on top 18-16 in shots on goal. The Jets were on top 26-13 in hits as well as leading 64%-36% in face-offs.
Blake Wheeler put the Jets back on top at 8:02 of the third frame on a beautiful breakaway play. Bryan Little sent a long up-ice pass onto the tape of Wheeler breaking up the middle. Wheeler made no mistake beating Miller high glove side bringing the entire MTS Centre to it's feet. 2-1 Jets.
Chris Thorburn made it 3-1 at 10:54 after he danced around Robyn Regehr and put one past Miller. Tobias Enstrom started the play handing the puck to Little who in turn saw Thorburn racing up the right wing. He sent him a nice feed and Thorburn sent home his fifth of the year.
The Sabres tried a late push back but were not able to get anything past Pavelec.
Evander Kane would ring one off the post of an empty net before time would expire on the game. The Jets were happy with the clean two points as they defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 Monday night.
The Jets now get set to hit the road to play out west against the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames later this week. Thursday's game in Vancouver is set for 9:00pm CST.