Ondrej the Giant

With just six games remaining in the regular season, the Winnipeg Jets are getting some big contributions from each line and currently sit in the second wild card position. However, one Jet has risen to the challenge when called upon and has provided his best performances of the year. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has been a gigantic factor in the Jets final push for the postseason and his resurgence has his team playing more confident.

Fresh off a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pavelec started once again taking on the San Jose Sharks. The Jets got off to a flying start, scoring three first period goals which was more than enough support for Pavelec, stopping 38 of 40 Sharks shots. Sharks forward Joe Pavelski scored twice and Jets Blake Wheeler responded with a pair of his own in a 5-2 Jets win.

Drew Stafford has made quite an impression in his short time as a Jet. Down a goal in the third period against the St. Louis Blues, Stafford threw a shot on net that fooled Brian Elliot to help force overtime. Throughout the game, the Jets relied on Pavelec’s jaw-dropping saves and was even more heroic in the shootout. The Jets goaltender made a sprawling pad save on Alex Steen’s shootout attempt to give the Jets a 2-1 win. After the game, captain Andrew Ladd talked about Pavelecs’s 33 save performance.

“For him to come back with the effort he had says a lot about him. I couldn’t be prouder the way he played tonight and he really kept us in it,” Ladd said. “He played great tonight.”

The Washington Capitals have had the Jets number ever since they were in the Southeast division but Mark Scheifele had other ideas. Scheifele scored a goal and an assist and Pavelec shut the door turning away all 28 Capital shots in a 3-0 shutout.

The Jets set out on a mini two game western road trip taking on the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks on back to back nights. Free agent additions Drew Stafford, Lee Stempniak, and Tyler Myers scored the opening three goals and Pavelec saved 33 Oiler shots in a 4-1 win to extend their winning streak to five games. The following night, Michael Hutchinson started in net against the Canucks and the Jets got out to a quick 2-0 lead. The Canucks rallied and scored five unanswered goals including a pair from Radim Vrbata ending the Jets win streak with a 5-2 victory.

The Jets went back to their hot goalie against the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs started Dustin Tokarski in net over potential Hart candidate Carey Price and the Jets took advantage. Mark Scheifele and Jim Slater both had a goal and an assist and Pavelec won his sixth straight start saving 39 shots in a 5-2 Jets win.

The Jets welcomed the struggling Chicago Blackhawks to the MTS Centre and provided the fans with a back and forth affair. Dustin Byfuglien scored a pair of goals and Blake Wheeler tallied shorthanded but it was Winnipegger Jonathan Toews scoring with 31 seconds left to give the Hawks a 4-3 win and ending Pavelec’s six game win streak.

The Jets will need Pavelec to continue his strong play in the final six games. Winnipeg will close out their homestand against the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks. They will then set out on a crucial three game road trip against the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, and the Colorado Avalanche before closing the season at home against the Calgary Flames.