WINNIPEG â€” Ondrej Pavelec is taking nothing for granted these days.
Even though the veteran Winnipeg netminder had a record-setting performance in backstopping the Jets to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues Saturday, he was cautious about his future with the NHL club.
“In the next week I could be in the minors again. I go day by day,” the 29-year-old said. “Every time I get the chance to play I’m going to try my best. We’ll see what happens.”
Starting and winning his second game this season after being called up from the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League Tuesday, Pavelec broke his own Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise record for saves in a period with 25 in the second. He had a 24-save record from an Oct. 31, 2009 game against Ottawa.
“Good, nice. I don’t think it’s really important,” said Pavelec, who made 34 total saves.
Blues goalie Pheonix Copley, a native of North Pole, Alaska, made his first NHL start and had 24 saves. He played in one game last season.
“Pavelec played a heck of a game down there,” Copley, 25, said. “At times they were getting shots on me a lot, too, so it was kind of one of those games.”
Winnipeg scored three power-play goals, a pair from Bryan Little and one from Nikolaj Ehlers. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele also scored for the Jets (22-23-4). Dustin Byfuglien, Mathieu Perreault and Jacob Trouba each added a pair of assists. Scheifele and Ehlers also had one helper apiece.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored twice for the Blues (23-19-5), who lost their third straight game. Paul Stastny had a goal and assist, while Jaden Schwartz added a pair of assists.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, but Winnipeg held a 2-1 lead after the shot-fest in the second.
Pavelec made a number of key saves that got the crowd cheering. Copley also impressed, especially when he denied Perreault a goal during a Winnipeg 3-on-1.
“I think the second period, we felt like we threw everything at them,” Shattenkirk said. “Pavelec made some huge saves. He really kept them in the game for sure.
“Third period, we came out and we had that same determination, but a penalty here, a penalty there, it’s hard to come from behind in the third period down by a goal when you’re down a man.”
The Blues had three power-play opportunities in the middle period.
“We were in the box a little bit too much and any time a good power play like that gets some momentum, it’s going to flip the game,” Wheeler said. “That’s what you pay your goaltender for.”
And Pavelec earned every dollar.
“(Pavelec) had a great game tonight,” Wheeler said. “We know him and we have a lot of confidence in him.”
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock had left starting netminder Jake Allen at home so he could “reset” after being pulled twice in last Thursday’s 7-3 loss to Washington. St. Louis has given up 18 goals in its three-game losing skid and has scored 10 during that span.
Hitchcock had no problems with Copley’s performance.
“He played good. No issues there,” Hitchcock said. “He played really well. Real happy with him.”
Shattenkirk also praised Copley.
“As far as the game went, he played tremendous. He looked extremely calm in there. After the first period, we were pretty calm ourselves knowing that he had our backs. The goals that he lets in are completely on us.
“We’ve had a bit of a tough break here with our goalies, but it’s not them. It’s the players in front of them that need to step up, and that definitely includes me and the rest of our (defensive) core and goes out from there.”
Winnipeg has won its first two games of a four-game homestand. The Jets host Anaheim Monday while St. Louis plays Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
Notes: Blues defenceman Jay Bouwmeester didn’t play because of a lower-body injury â€¦ The Jets are 10-4-1 against Central Division teams this season, including 6-0-0 at home.
Judy Owen, The Canadian Press