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Ladd's shootout goal leads Jets past Stars

by Steve Hunt /
DALLAS - When Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd stepped onto the ice for his shootout attempt, he had a good idea of what he wanted going to do. Then he went out and did it.

Ladd, Winnipeg's second shooter, beat Kari Lehtonen with a wrister to his glove side for the only goal in the tiebreaker as the Jets beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Saturday night. Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who had stopped Jamie Benn and Alex Chiasson in the first two rounds, ended the game when he forced Ray Whitney to miss the net with a wrist shot.

"Yeah, [it's] nice to be on the other side of an overtime and shootout game for sure, so I thought we did a lot of good things," said Ladd, whose team lost 5-4 to the Washington Capitals in a shootout on Tuesday. "Maybe [we] deserved a little better fate before that but that's the way it goes and sometimes you've got to grind them out until the bitter end."

The Jets dominated play for most of the first two periods but had only Evander Kane's goal at 3:28 of the middle period to show for it. Kane scored his sixth of the season by flipping a rebound past Lehtonen from the middle of the right circle during a delayed penalty. Lehtonen stopped Dustin Byfuglien's initial blast from near the blue line, but the carom fell to Kane, who quickly slipped it into the right side of the net with Lehtonen out of position.

"In the first period we resembled the team that practiced this morning," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "We weren't crisp this morning and we didn't come out crisp, and I thought that hurt us. I thought maybe halfway through the second period we started to get it going a little bit and really started skating."

The Stars came out firing in the third period, outshooting Winnipeg 16-7, and tied the game at 6:36 when Stephane Robidas beat Pavelec with a wrister from near the blue line. Pavelec looked like he could have been screened on the play as he appeared not to see Robidas' low shot until it passed through the five-hole.

"It was a disappointing goal in a lot of ways," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "You look at the way that thing got manufactured from our own standpoint and the way it went in was kind of a seeing-eye shot. But I thought after that we played patient. I thought we did a good job controlling the neutral zone a lot better and minimizing their speed."

Winnipeg nearly took a two-goal lead 12 seconds into the third period when a shot by Devin Setoguchi rang off the far post. Lehtonen lost track of the puck, but Jordie Benn skated in to clear the carom away from the crease.

The Stars went on the power play with 25.6 seconds left in regulation after the Jets were guilty of having too many men on the ice. Jamie Benn nearly ended it with a 12-foot wrister with 18 seconds remaining but Pavelec made the save.

"He was good," Ladd said of Pavelec. "We need him to be our best player on a lot of nights. We put a lot of pressure on him to do so, but we feel he's capable of doing that. He bailed us out a couple times but still thought we did a lot of good things."

Dallas rookie Valeri Nichushkin, the Stars' top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, had a great chance for his first career goal at 3:12 of OT but Pavelec turned back his 12-foot backhand. The Jets peppered Lehtonen late in the extra period, including several blasts by Byfuglien, but were unable to score despite outshooting Dallas 6-2 in overtime.

Pavelec made 35 saves through 65 minutes; Lehtonen stopped 37 shots.

"Our goalie was fantastic," Noel said. "We gave them some opportunities right there at the end there point-blank that he had to come up big. He made some really key saves. It's getting to the point where we're starting to expect that from Pavelec. He's coming through big time for us."

One big positive for the Stars in the game was that they won 64 percent of the faceoffs compared to just 36 percent by the Jets. Of course, that stat is something of a hollow number for Dallas center Vernon Fiddler.

"We were winning faceoffs but we weren't getting any shots," Fiddler said. "We were winning d-zone faceoffs and not getting out of our end. They seemed to be getting it back."

Winnipeg will complete a back-to-back set on Sunday night in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.

"I think the extra point was huge for us. It's an extra point that was good, especially against Dallas. We would have liked to have had the clean game where we get the two points but having said that we at least get on the right side of these," Noel said. "These three in a row, losing that extra point would have been tough on our group. So I thought we got rewarded. We played hard."

Dallas will hit the road for a quick two-game trip that starts Monday night against the Buffalo Sabres. It will be Ruff's first visit to Buffalo since the Sabres fired him early last season.
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