NEW YORK -- It's a step in the right direction for the Winnipeg Jets if goaltending is going to be the least of their concerns this season.
So far it has been, a point that was evident Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
The Jets beat the New York Rangers without scoring a goal through regulation and overtime. Ondrej Pavelec made 38 saves in 65 minutes and three more in the shootout, when the Jets got goals from Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane to beat the Rangers 1-0.
It was Pavelec's first shutout in almost a calendar year; his last shutout came against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 8, 2013, when he made 41 saves in a 5-0 win.
That he didn't get any goal support Saturday made his night all the more impressive and important. The Jets are 2-0-1 on their current four-game road trip, which concludes Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
"Good for him," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of Pavelec. "We haven't been able to give the guy a whole lot of goal support, so he figured out how to win the game. Just spectacular."
Kane scored the shootout winner in the fourth round with a forehanded shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves, including 22 in regulation.
Wheeler and Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello scored goals in the first round of the shootout. Pavelec made saves on Rick Nash, Dominic Moore and Martin St. Louis to give Kane a chance to win it.
"[Pavelec] is obviously a big, big part of our team and a big, big part of our success," Kane said. "That sometimes goes unnoticed because the goalie is supposed to stop pucks, but here [Saturday night] it was pretty evident that he was a big reason why we won the game."
Pavelec's performance was particularly noticeable because the Rangers controlled the majority of the play through 65 minutes despite losing two defensemen to injuries in the first period.
Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh sustained a separated left shoulder at 11:46, when he was driven hard into the corner boards by Kane. Kevin Klein left at 3:12 of the first with a foot contusion, a result of blocking Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba's shot at 28 seconds.
McDonagh and Klein are expected to undergo MRIs on Sunday.
The Rangers compensated by having Dan Girardi play 34:50 and Marc Staal 29:33. In addition, Matt Hunwick played 27:58 and Michael Kostka, in his second game of the season, played 21:56.
New York still finished with a 38-25 advantage in shots on goal, including 24-21 at even strength. They had a 72-62 advantage in shot attempts and won 32 of 61 faceoffs (52 percent).
Rangers forward Martin St. Louis had a chance to end the game 3:05 into overtime when he got in alone on a breakaway. He shot from between the hash marks but Pavelec said he got his elbow on the shot to knock it away.
"We played a real strong game," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Tough circumstances right off the hop. Our guys buckled down. Our four defenseman logged tons of minutes. Our forwards did a great job of working their way back and giving help when help was needed. We had plenty of chances to get this done in regulation and we couldn't do it. We ended up losing it in the shootout. It wasn't for lack of effort or execution. We played one of our best games of the year."
Again though, the Rangers' problem was their power play. It went 0-for-5 to fall to 2-for-28 this season. The Rangers generated 11 shots on goal with the man advantage.
"It needs to produce," Vigneault said. "It's getting some looks. We are trying some different personnel. That's one area where we need to get some results. It had an opportunity to win us the game and it didn't get it done."
The Jets felt they played two of their worst periods of the season before finally stringing together some passes and creating some scoring chances in the third period.
"The puck was not our friend by any means, but you felt when you're goaltender got you through two periods at zeroes that you had a chance to win the game, and we were better in the third," Maurice said. "We found a way to simplify some things and battle on some pucks that we lost in the first two periods."
That they couldn't score didn't matter because Pavelec was on his game, as he has been for the majority of the season.
Pavelec, who has played in all 11 games (10 starts), has a .921 save percentage and 2.10 goals-against average. He has allowed five goals in the past four games and has given up two or fewer in six of his starts.
Pavelec finished last season with a .901 save percentage and 3.01 GAA.
"He's been really good from training camp on and [Saturday night] he was our best player by far," Maurice said. "He needs to be able to get some confidence out of these games. He needs more than 'Geez, you played well and we couldn't score enough.'
"Good for him. He's earned it. He's got all the respect in the world from the players in that locker room. He competes hard and battles hard."