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The Journal Gazette

  • Winnipeg Jets' defenseman Ron Hainsey (6), left winger Andrew Ladd (16) and center Brian Little (18) celebrate a goal by Ladd during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:47 pm

Pavelec stops 29 in Jets' 2-1 win over Sabres

By JOHN WAWROWAP Sports Writer

Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves to help the Winnipeg Jets snap a three-game skid with a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

Andrew Ladd's goal that made it 2-0 early in the second period stood up as the winner, and Bryan Little also scored for Winnipeg. The Jets won for the third time in 10 games while opening a season-high five-game road swing.

Jason Pominville scored for Buffalo, once again booed by its home crowd. The Sabres are 4-9-1 in their past 14 and have dropped consecutive home games for the first time since last February.

Pavelec, who was playing his 200th NHL game, made 11 third-period saves for a Jets team that continues to have difficulty generating offense. Winnipeg has gone seven games without scoring three goals in regulation.

Pavelec's best save came with just more than 5 minutes left, when he kicked out his left pad just in time to stop T.J. Brennan's hard shot from the left circle. Then there was his left pad save in stopping Tyler Ennis from in close with 1:14 remaining.

He also made a sharp glove save to stop Drew Stafford set up alone in the lower left circle with 1:44 left in the first period.

After Little scored a minute into the game, Ladd made it 2-0 at the 5:46 mark of the second period.

The Jets captain did much of the work in setting up the goal by causing Nathan Gerbe's turnover inside the Buffalo zone. Ladd poked the puck off Gerbe's stick as he was attempting to skate up the middle. Ron Hainsey kept it in at the left point and fed a pass to Ladd, who scored from the left circle.

Several familiar troubles continued to resurface for the Sabres, who have been hurt by slow starts, giveaways and lethargic play.

The Sabres gave up a goal on the first shot for the second straight game.

Evander Kane extended his point streak to four games (a goal and two assists) by outmuscling two Sabres defenders and digging out the puck at the end boards. He then made a no-look pass into the middle to a wide-open Little, who snapped it past Ryan Miller 1 minute in.

That was reminiscent of the Penguins scoring on their first two shots in the first 87 seconds of a 4-3 win at Buffalo on Sunday.

Miller was otherwise sharp in finishing with 26 saves, and bailing out his teammates on several defensive miscues. Miller foiled Jim Slater trying to beat him through the legs on a breakaway with 2 minutes left in the opening period. He also made a diving poke check to stop Kane on a partial short-handed breakaway with 20 seconds left in the first period.

The Jets' lead held up through the opening period, marking only the second time this season Winnipeg has led after 20 minutes.

What also has become familiar in Buffalo is the Sabres getting excessively booed by their fans throughout much of the second period. They were booed during a 1-minute stretch in which they were bottled up in their own zone. And they earned a Bronx cheer when they finally crossed the Jets blue line.

The real cheers finally came when Pominville scored on a 2-on-1 break with 22 seconds left in the second period. Breaking up the left wing following a Jets giveaway inside the Sabres blue line, Pominville snapped a shot from the left circle that beat Pavelec just inside the far post.

NOTES: Sabres D Jordan Leopold became the latest to land in coach Lindy Ruff's doghouse, becoming a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Jets penalty killers went 3 for 3 after entering the game having allowed an NHL-worst 15 goals on 44 power-play chances. The Jets are 4-0-1 when they don't give up a power-play goal. ... Pominville's goal snapped a six-game point drought that matched the longest of his career, according to STATS. ... The Jets have not lost four in a row in regulation since a four-game skid from Jan. 21-31, 2009, when they were the Atlanta Thrashers.