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Jets' Pavelec out through December with knee sprain

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets placed goaltender Ondrej Pavelec on injured reserve Monday with what coach Paul Maurice called a significant knee sprain that will keep him out through at least December.

Pavelec sustained the injury in the second period of the Jets' 3-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday after a collision with Coyotes captain Shane Doan.

Doan was pushed by Jets defenseman Mark Stuart before crashing into Pavelec.

"The window of recovery is harder to pin down on goaltenders than it is on skaters," Maurice said. "Our best information is that it is going to January or February [before he returns]. It's a wider window because it's a goaltender. He is not getting back in an NHL net until he is 100 percent."

Pavelec is 5-6-1 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson will become the No. 1 goaltender for now. Hutchinson is expected to start for the Jets (10-9-2) against the Avalanche (7-12-1) in the finale of a three-game homestand Monday. The 25-year-old is in his second full NHL season and is 5-3-1 with a 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage.

"Nothing really changes in my preparation," Hutchinson said. "My lone goal coming into every game is to help the team win when I get a chance. That's the only thing I'm going to try to do right now."

Goalie Connor Hellebuyck was recalled from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on Sunday. The Jets' fifth-round pick (No. 130) in the 2012 NHL Draft is 2-7-1 with a 2.41 GAA and .927 save percentage with the Moose this season.

"I can only hope [Pavelec] gets better soon," Hellebuyck said. "It just means that I can come to a new team and show them what I got, and hopefully be there for them. I'm just going to come here, get better every day and give my best, and whatever happens, happens."

Maurice said he believes a Hutchinson-Hellebuyck tandem will be a capable one.

"We've got depth," Maurice said. "We've got experience."

Leading scorer Blake Wheeler also is confident the Jets can survive Pavelec's loss.

"It hurts," Wheeler said. "[Pavelec] has really played well for us. He came in at the end of last season, and pretty much carried us into the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs, so I think that restored his confidence.

"It's tough losing Pavelec, but we're confident in the two guys we've got back there."

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