Pavelec gives Jets chance

Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) stops a shot by New York Rangers centre Artem Anisimov...

Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) stops a shot by New York Rangers centre Artem Anisimov (42) in the second period of their NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York, November 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:00 AM ET

NEW YORK - It was the type of save that is supposed to give a team life and allow them to win against all odds.

New York Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik was alone at the side of the net and fired a quick shot off that seemed destined for the back of the net before Ondrej Pavelec snatched the puck out of the air to keep it a one-goal game.

“That was a heck of a save, it was really textbook,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel. “He’s enabled us to win games, whether it’s on the penalty kill or 5-on-5, he keeps us in the game and he really gives us a chance.

“It’s why our road trip has been so good of late.”

Pavelec made 24 saves, but the Jets dropped a 3-0 decision to the Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

With the loss, the Jets slipped to 3-2-1 on the seven-game road trip and 5-7-2 overall.

STUART RETURNS: It surprised nobody inside the Winnipeg Jets locker-room that Mark Stuart was back in the lineup on Sunday.

Although he’s nowhere near 100% health and sat out the past two games with an undisclosed ailment, the Jets blue-liner found a way to gut it out in the 3-0 loss to the Rangers playing just over 18 minutes as he was reunited with defence partner Zach Bogosian on a regular basis.

“I felt OK,” said Stuart. “It doesn’t hurt as much when I skate as when I walk.”

Stuart’s courageous play has become standard practice.

“He’s huge for us and he’s just a pillar back there,” said Jets forward Chris Thorburn. “He plays hard game-in and game-out. To have him back is just awesome. He brings so much to this team.”

“He’s a heart-and-soul guy and one of the big leaders on this team,” added captain Andrew Ladd. “It’s important for us to have him in the lineup. He’s blocking shots and is big on the (penalty kill), stands up for his teammates. It’s always good to have him in the lineup and it’s pretty impressive that he’s back.”

The Jets dressed 11 forwards and seven defencemen in the contest.

“For a guy that hasn’t been on the ice much of late, he looked comfortable and did real well. I really liked his game,” said Noel.

While Stuart returned, Jets scoring leader Nik Antropov sat out his second consecutive game with a hand injury.

END ON A HIGH?: The Jets will finally hit the end of the road for this season-high seven-game road trip on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres and they’re doing their best to finish on a high note.

“It’s been a positive trip so far but this next game is absolutely huge,” said Stuart. “Not only to end on a win, but it’s so much better going home after a win. It’s a bittersweet feeling if you don’t get it done.”

The road ahead isn’t exactly an easy one though.

After playing the Sabres on Tuesday night at HSBC Arena, the Jets will fly home after the game, host the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at MTS Centre and then travel to Columbus, Ohio, to face the Blue Jackets on Saturday night before heading back home.

“We’ve got to find some energy,” said Noel. “We’ve got a tough road ahead schedule-wise. Managing energy is going to be a really big factor for us.”


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