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Pavelec's 46 saves help Jets hold off Stars

by Steve Hunt / NHL.com

DALLAS -- The only aspect of the Winnipeg Jets' 2-1 victory against the Dallas Stars that coach Paul Maurice wanted to talk about was the 46-save performance of his goaltender, Ondrej Pavelec.

"I will answer every question about what I think about this game, but anything that I say would distract people from our goaltender's performance and I can't in good conscience let that happen," Maurice said. "Ondrej Pavelec had an incredible night; [he] is the reason that we got two points, is the reason that we didn't get embarrassed. That was clearly just a special effort by a gifted man."

Michael Frolik scored his ninth goal of the season early in the first period to put the Jets in front, and Pavelec made it stand up until Evander Kane made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal midway through the third period.

Pavelec stopped the first 44 shots he faced before Trevor Daley's slap shot from the left circle with 1:16 remaining in regulation ended his shutout bid. Dallas (19-17-7) pressed until the final horn but was unable to get another puck past Pavelec.

"I'll take the win," Pavelec said. "Of course, it would be nice [to get the shutout]. I wouldn't lie but hockey's 60 minutes, so it doesn't matter when they score. A huge goal on the penalty kill that helped us a lot."

Winnipeg won despite being outshot 46-22 by Dallas.

"I thought we were the better team," Daley said.

The Stars finished 0-for-7 on the power play and are 1-for-24 in their past six games.

"The power play had point-blank opportunities," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Your best players have to put it in the back of the net, and they didn't go. Some hit bodies; they blocked quite a few shots. We just missed too many good opportunities."

The Jets (23-14-8) took an early lead when Frolik tapped in a pass from Mathieu Perreault 3:53 into the first period. Perreault passed the puck from the right of his own net and hit Frolik in stride. He slipped his stick around the right skate of Stars rookie defenseman John Klingberg, giving him enough space to send a quick wrist shot into the left side of the net.

"It was just a good forecheck he started up," Perreault said of Frolik. "The puck came back to me. I put it back to him and he put it in."

Dallas had a great early chance to tie it 2:18 into the second period when Shawn Horcoff had a breakaway, but Pavelec stopped his wrist shot from the slot.

Pavelec stopped all 22 shots he faced in the second period, including saves on Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn within a seven-second span. Pavelec stopped Seguin's slap shot from the left point at 7:42, then denied Spezza's attempt to knock in the rebound and stretched to get his glove on Benn's attempt to knock in the second rebound at the right post.

"We haven't been playing the best in front of him this season, and for him to have a performance like that and get us a win, it just reestablishes his confidence and our confidence in him," Kane said. "I don't know how many highlight-reel saves you can make throughout the course of a game before somebody scores, so it was a great performance by him."

Cody Eakin had the Stars' second breakaway of the second period at 11:38, with the teams skating 4-on-4, but his wrist shot from the slot deflected off Pavelec's left shoulder and went over the crossbar.

The Stars outshot the Jets 22-6 in the second but still trailed 1-0 at the second intermission.

"I thought we got off the puck a little bit," Kane said of the Jets' play in second period. "We weren't as aggressive on our forecheck and in our neutral zone as we were in the first and as we kind of have been all season. When you give a team with their skill and their speed time and space to make plays in the neutral zone, they're going to create chances and I think we got away from our pressure a little bit in the second."

Dallas got a four-minute power play at 5:24 of the third period when Blake Wheeler was called for a high stick that drew blood to the face of Dallas forward Erik Cole. But instead of allowing the tying goal, Winnipeg went ahead 2-0 at 7:34 when Kane's soft wrist shot deflected off the left skate of Daley and past Anders Lindback for his ninth goal of the season.

Kane's goal came just over a minute after what might have been Pavelec's best save of the game, a windmill glove save at the right post on Seguin's wrist shot from the slot.

"Absolutely, he stole that one for us. It was all him today," Perreault said. "Look at the scoring chances. I'm sure they had more chances than us, so Pavelec stole that one for us."

Lindback finished with 20 saves.

"It was utter domination but we didn't finish," Ruff said. "We had great opportunities. I don't think you can play any better and have that many missed opportunities. You have to give Pavelec a lot of credit but, at the same time, our near-misses should have been in the back of the net."

Dallas fell to 2-9-5 in the Central Division and trails the Jets by nine points, though the Stars have two games in hand.

"It's huge, especially at this time of the year, it's getting tighter and tighter," Perreault said. "Last game to play them for a long time, so it was good to keep them below us."

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