The Jets kicked their five game road trip off in Buffalo tonight against the Sabres. They started things off on the right foot as Bryan Little got his group on the board 60 seconds in. It was a hard-fought battle from then on but the hard work and strong character of this Jets team earned them the 2-1 victory in the end.
Ondrej Pavelec played in his 200th NHL game tonight and was a key piece to this win, turning away 29 shots on net. He looked comfortable and strong making key saves throughout the entire game.
"It was nice to have the lead in the third and it was nice to see us close out the game and get the two points," said Pavelec.
"Pavelec was outstanding in this game, he really helped us win," said Claude Noel after the game. "He made some key saves, he was big in the net, he was really focused and i thought he was outstanding which is the way we know he's capable of playing."
The Jets improve their road record to 3-3-1 and will continue on to the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night. Game time is 6:00 pm.
The Jets were off to a great start in Buffalo as Bryan Little tallied his third of the season at exactly the one minute mark of the period. Evander Kane made an excellent play behind the net to dig the puck out and make a great pass behind him to a wide open Little in the slot. Little made no mistake but to snap it high on Ryan Miller.
John Scott took the game's first penalty for slashing on Andrew Ladd sending the Jets to an early power play at 2:36 but they were unable to capitalize on the advantage.
Just over the midway mark of the period, Kane and Patrick Kaleta found themselves in a pushing match which resulted in Kane picking up the extra two minutes for slashing, giving the Sabres their first full power play. They too didn't have much luck on the man advantage, and the Jets remained up by one.
Later, with two minutes left on the board, Chris Thorburn made a beautiful backhand saucer pass onto Jim Slater's stick who was a step ahead of his defender. He went hard to the net but Miller was there to shut down his shot. On the other end of the night, the Sabres had a good chance of their own but Pavelec was also there to make the timely save and keep the Jets up by one. Byfuglien did get caught on the play for hooking and went off with 1:44 to play. The Sabres tried to push one past Pavelec but time ran out and the score remained 1-0.
Shots were 9-9 after 20 minutes but the Jets held a significant 14-7 lead in hits.
It was a much slower pace in the first few minutes of the second period but things picked up as Andrew Ladd put the Jets up 2-0 at 5:44. Ron Hainsey did a great job keeping the puck in the zone at the blueline. Ladd was able to get to the puck and quickly snapped one on net that soared through the legs of Miller.
The Jets kept the pressure on for most of the period but a costly turnover in the offensive zone with just 21 seconds to play resulted in Jason Pominville cutting the Jets lead in half. The turnover allowed the Sabres to race up ice into the Jets zone on a two-on-one and stun Pavelec late.
Through two periods, shots were 22-20 in favour of the Jets.
The Jets looked a little tense in the opening minutes of the third period, sitting back on the lead. Wheeler had the best chance as he wired a shot with Ladd in front acting as a screen but it just didn't find it's way to the back of the net. The Jets still clinging to the one-goal lead with 12 minutes left to play.
Chances continued for the Ladd, Little and Wheeler line as time ticked down in the third period, but they somehow could not solve the defense of the Sabres and the goaltending of Miller to regain the two-goal lead.
On the other end, Pavelec had to be on his game too, pouncing on loose pucks, tracking pucks down through traffic and making big saves to keep his team in it late in the game.
Things got even more crazy when the Sabres pulled Miller from their net with just under two minutes left in regulation. The Sabres battled hard in the Jets zone trying to tie the game but the Jets kept on them, clinging to the lead. With about a minute to play, Slater was able to set up Kane with what looked like an easy goal with the wide open net but the puck sailed high and with 6 seconds left, the face-off went back down in front of Pavelec.
Slater went in one last time to win maybe the biggest face-off of the game, and won the draw. Time ticked down and the Jets held on for the 2-1 win in Buffalo. They continue their road trip Thursday night in Carolina, game time is 6:00 pm.