WASHINGTON - One of these days, Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec might change his tune.
But for now, he’s sticking to his shootout mantra, even after improving his record in the stressful breakaway competition to a respectable 3-3 this season, with Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win in Washington.
“I don’t like shootouts at all — I don’t know why,” Pavelec said. “I feel a little bit pressure on the shootouts, especially when the guy scores.”
If that’s the case, then Thursday’s first shot was his worst nightmare, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin blowing it by him and putting the pressure squarely on the Jets.
When Blake Wheeler answered with a goal of his own, Pavelec found a way to make the shootout his friend, blanking Alexander Semin and Mathieu Perreault, making Bryan Little the shootout’s co-hero for Winnipeg.
“Finally I make some saves,” Pavelec said. “Nobody asks how you guys win.
“We weren’t good the first 40 minutes at all. In the third we were a little bit better. A huge win on the road.”
Only trouble is, the Caps still got a point, while Florida got two, leaving the Jets only one point closer to their goal: top spot in the Southeast Division.
The Panthers hold it now, but this race is far from over.
The Jets, at least, stayed in it.
The Jets were buzzing about their trip to the Canadian Embassy, where they were hosted by Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the U.S. and former Manitoba premier.
“It was cool. I’ve never been a part of anything like that,” defenceman Zach Bogosian said. “And for him to be such a Winnipeg Jets fan, it was pretty special to be there.”
Most of the players had no idea how instrumental Doer was bringing the NHL back to Winnipeg through the completion of the MTS Centre in 2004, or that he was even a Winnipegger.
“He just told us to beat the Capitals,” Bogosian said. “He really cares about the Jets. You could tell he and Mark Chipman have a good relationship. It’s cool to see someone of that power root for us.”
Doer wasn’t wearing a Jets jersey or anything, but he promised to get one.
“He said he was going to hang it up on his wall,” Chris Thorburn said. “We’ll hold him to that.”
Thorburn said the embassy visit was a personal highlight.
“Just meeting all the people that serve for us,” he said. “One guy came back with a Purple Heart — he got injured while in service. It’s just great to kind of thank them, and hearing their experiences and how they relate to what we do.
“It was a great experience. It’s something not every Canadian gets to experience.”
NO TIMMY HERE
A few players, including Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov missed Wednesday’s visit.
But it was because they were battling the flu bug, not making a political statement, a la Boston goalie Tim Thomas’s deliberate snub of his team’s recent White House visit.
“And I won’t be making any Facebook comments, either,” Ladd joked, referring to Thomas’s public statement outlining his objections to the direction of the U.S. government.