Winnipeg – The Winnipeg Jets finally have that elusive third straight win of the season. But it came on the tenth try, as the Jets pulled off a 4-3 victory in Dallas on Thursday Night. Winnipeg was 1-17-2 going back to the start of last season, when they had the opportunity to go on a three game winning streak. So while the players were trying to make light of the accomplishment, the victory brought them to within a single point of St. Louis and Calgary for the final play off spot in the Western Conference.
Mark Scheifele led the way offensively with his team leading 24th and 25th goals of the season, but the difference maker was the goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec who made 39 saves.
None bigger than just before the six minute mark of the second period, when the score was tied 2-2, and Pavelec robbed Jamie Benn on a shorthanded breakaway after the Dallas captain stripped Patrik Laine of the puck at the Winnipeg blueline while the Stars were playing two men short.
“I think that’s the first time in my career I ever had a 5 on 3 breakaway,” Pavelec told reporters after the game. “You just have to be patient.”
The Jets promptly went down the ice, and Scheifele scored the go-ahead goal to give Winnipeg a lead they would never relinquish. Head Coach Paul Maurice agreed, that was the pivotal moment of the game. “There are times when a goaltender makes a stop, and there are times when he makes a save,” said Maurice after the game. “That was a save. He was pretty darn good tonight.”
Bryan Little opened the scoring for Winnipeg with his seventh goal in as many games, but Dallas scored a pair of unanswered goals just over two minutes apart midway through the first period and appeared to be headed into the intermission with a lead.
Jets Captain Blake Wheeler prevented that from happening when he set up Scheifele for a one timer with :53 seconds remaining in the period. After Scheifele scored on the two man advantage, Nikolaj Ehlers took advantage of an errant clearing attempt by Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen who got caught behind the net, leaving Ehlers a wide open cage for what turned out to be the game winning goal.
The Stars did score late in the middle frame, but Pavelec- and a goal post- prevented the home team from getting the equalizer despite oushooting the Jets 14-3 for a 42-29 advantage on the night.
Another standout for the Jets was defenceman Toby Enstrom who had a season high 8 blocked shots of the team total of 29 in the game.
Winnipeg is now 13-4-1 versus the Central Division and will try to go a perfect 4-0 for the road trip when they visit Colorado on Saturday Afternoon at 2 p.m. The Avalanche have lost 9 straight and have won just 2 of their last 21 games.