Jets’ Pavelec to return to face Burmistrov, Coyotes

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Desperate times call for desperate measures but the Winnipeg Jets are way past that — they’ve called for Ondrej Pavelec.

After neither Connor Hellebuyck nor Michael Hutchinson were able to provide the kind of goaltending needed for a serious playoff run, the Winnipeg Jets have recalled their former long-time starter from the minors.

The move unlikely will be long-term as Pavelec’s contract, which pays him $4.75 million per year, expires at the end of this season. There’s no question, however, his return will light a fire under the pads of the other two for the next little while.

“Ondrej’s game started slow and has really improved, we’ve struggled in our net and we’ve got to win hockey games. I want to see (Pavelec on Wednesday night),” Jets coach Paul Maurice told the media said after the goalie’s first practice on Tuesday.

It’s unusual for a club to carry three goaltenders, but the Jets are prepared to do so for the short term.

“Nothing is written in stone,” Maurice said.

Pavelec, a native of the Czech Republic, has been a polarizing figure since he arrived with the rest of the former Atlanta Thrashers in the fall of 2011. He was often criticized for giving up bad goals but was also lauded for putting the team on his back en route to its only playoff appearance in 2015.

The Jets have lost four consecutive games and are in danger of falling out of the playoff picture unless they’re able to turn things around.

Pavelec has played 18 games with the Jets’ minor league affiliate, the Manitoba Moose — with whom they share the same home rink — going 8-7-2 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He has played 371 NHL games over nine seasons, compiling a 148-154-47 record, a 2.86 career GAA and a .907 save percentage.

Another familiar face will be on the ice Wednesday night at the MTS Centre but this one will be wearing an Arizona Coyotes’ jersey.

Alex Burmistrov, another former Thrasher, was placed on waivers by the Jets a couple of weeks ago and picked up by Arizona. With the arrival of youngsters such as Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, the 25-year-old found himself falling down the Jets’ depth chart and was a frequent healthy scratch this season.

Since suiting up for the Coyotes, Burmistrov has recorded one assist in one game — he had some visa problems which delayed his arrival — and has even had some shifts on the power play, which only ever happened in Winnipeg in garbage time.

He said he’s looking forward to playing his friends and former teammates.

“We came from Atlanta to Winnipeg. I love the boys, I love the crowd. The fans are great, they always supported me good. It’s going to be a special night,” he said.

“I’m sure it’s going to be weird, awkward, seeing your ex-teammates skating on the other side in the warmup.”

He scored 13 goals in the Jets’ first season, a career high, but had just two assists in 23 games with the Jets this year.

Burmistrov still has an apartment in Winnipeg and said he has “great” memories of his 5 1/2 seasons with the Jets.

“It’s cold but it’s nice. I have lots of friends outside of hockey (here), guys I play golf with in the summer,” he said.