Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves of 28 shots in regulation and overtime, then stopped all three Philadelphia Flyers skaters in the shootout to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 victory over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night. Pavelec snuffed out shots by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Jaromir Jagr, while Bryan Little was the lone Jet to beat Ilya Bryzgalov in the game-deciding skills competition to give Winnipeg the extra point. The Philly goalie had stopped Kyle Wellwood and Blake Wheeler before Little ended it, beating Bryzgalov through the five-hole for the game-winner.
"Just a little bit late to close the five-hole," Bryzgalov said after the game. Little revealed how he went about planning his strategy when it came time for him to take his shot at the Flyers' net.
"I saw when (Kyle) Wellwood went down, (Bryzgalov) left his five hole open," he said. "I just decided to give him a fake and it might open up again." It did open up, and Little made no mistake in hitting his target.
Pavelec improved to a perfect 3-0-0 against the Flyers this year.
It was a very different beginning to the game than the ridiculous 9-8 shootout back in late-October, as neither team was even able to generate a single shot on goal through the contest's first 10 minutes. As a matter of fact, Winnipeg didn't generate their first shot on goal until the 10:36 mark, and Philadelphia didn't put their first offering on Pavelec until 13:35, just seconds after going on their only power play of the evening.
After Chris Thorburn took a retaliation penalty as Scott Hartnell got under his skin, Brayden Schenn would score the game's first goal. He jammed the rebound of a Matt Carle post shot past Ondrej Pavelec while on the man advantage for his fourth goal of the season -- his second consecutive game with a goal -- at 15:11 of the opening period.
Jagr, who hadn't played in the two games preceding the All-Star break, picked up a secondary assist on the goal for his first point since Jan. 17 against the Minnesota Wild.
Thorburn, who hadn't scored an NHL goal since March of 2011, looked like a sniper when his shot beat Bryzgalov over his glove hand and went top corner to tie the game just 2:06 into the second period. Head coach Claude Noel, who sat down and talked with Thorburn about his play and had made him a healthy scratch for a few games, said his player has worked hard. "In practice he has been working hard and putting in extra time and I think it has helped him," Noel said of Thorburn. It really paid off Tuesday night.
The Flyers again had an early-period lull as they recorded no shots in the first six minutes of the middle frame. Winnipeg outshot them by a 5-0 margin during that time.
Jagr skated with Matt Read and Schenn for most of the first two periods, and nearly scored midway through regulation time. He took a perfect pass from Read and sent a blistering one-timer that beat Pavelec to the glove side, but the puck rattled off the cross bar. The force of the shot was so great, replays show the cage actually rocking on its moorings.
Philadelphia got an excellent shift from the Hartnell - Giroux - Wayne Simmonds line, taking advantage of a Nikolai Antropov broken stick. The trio kept the Jets pinned in their own zone for a stretch of 1:30 late in the second stanza but could not penetrate Pavelec.
With Jagr moving back to the Giroux line in the third period, the Flyers offense generated as many shots in the first half of the third as they did in each of the entire first and second periods. The shots were 7-2 midway through the period, and Pavelec had to come up with some great stops. His best was on a point blank Hartnell redirection of a Giroux set up. The Winnipeg netminder was sensational in the third, holding his team in the game despite being outshot, 13-4.
The Jets were given a huge gift late in regulation, when Philadelphia was caught with too many men on the ice with just 4:!8 remaining in the third period. The Flyers were able to kill off the Winnipeg power play, but needed a bit of luck to get into the extra session.
Just as the 'Last minute of play in the third period' announcement was made by public address announcer, Lou Nolan, the Jets came close to taking a late lead. Captain Andrew Ladd nearly finished off a nice Winnipeg rush, but hit the side of the net with Bryzgalov down and out of the play.
Early in overtime, the Jets nearly won it again. Little took a cross-ice pass in the right faceoff circle and launched a shot from the hash marks that beat Bryzgalov to the short side, but rang solidly off the post and stayed out.
The win marks the sixth straight time that Winnipeg franchise has defeated the Flyers, with three coming in regulation, one in overtime, and two in the shootout. The former-Atlanta Thrashers won the last three meetings last season after dropping the first.
Although just 20 years of age, Schenn appeared to know exactly why his club was so ineffective in their attack in the first two periods. "I think for us we were way too cute the first two periods," he said of their attempts at the perfect pass for an open net shot instead of just getting pucks to the net. "We didn't have many shots or many chances and I feel like we didn't start playing until the third the way we can."
Flyers' head coach Peter Laviolette agreed. "We got going in the third period," he said in his post-game press conference. "Gave ourselves a chance to win the game, but we couldn't get it done."
For Philadelphia, the game marked the third consecutive that has gone to the shootout. They have won one and dropped two, and are now 1-4 when contests go beyond overtime this year.