A headline that certianly would’ve blown the minds of hockey fans if it were shown to them three minutes into the Jets game against Arizona. Ondrej Pavelec was scored on his first shot against in almost 10 months.
Josh Jooris flew a snapper right past Pavelec’s left pad. Whether it was nerves that put him out of position, or just a slow progression back to the NHL, it was a stop Pavelec needs to make.
Not again, another game the Jets were going to lose in the first period. But then a different responce was exhibited. The Jets counter-attacked with four goals from four different lines. Pavelec rebounded, ending the night with a 0.909 save percentage. Nothing special, but if we cast aside his first blunder, a great evening was achieved.
Two highlight reel saves are in the books for Pavelec. The first against Brendan Perlini on a two-on-one. Perlini redirected a pass, but Pavelec kicked out his leg just far enough to smother it. The second will be on highlight-of-the-night films everywhere. After a cross-crease pass that caught Pavelec off guard, he held his stick out in desperation. Radim Vrbata shot the puck right into his twig.
Finally the Jets were getting timely saves when they really needed them, and that transformed into confidence for the skaters. With Hellebuyck in net, many of the Jets, veterans especially felt nervous to make a mistake, as if they couldn’t quite trust Hellebuyck to bail them out. With Pavelec back in the crease, we saw some of the better games this season from Dustin Byfuglien, and Mathieu Perreault, two underperformers for much of the season. Byfuglien was stepping into the play often, and with confidence. Perreault was his old self, a little pest in front of the net, and battling in corners.
Surely Pavelec can’t make anyone play better, but if everyone plays better when he is playing, than he’s the man. Don’t expect his name beside Manitoba Moose in the near future, because Pavelec gives them the best chance to win games.