It wasn't easy but road wins never are. It was a game the Jets could have had won after the second period, but when all was said and done, it was also a game they could have lost.
For most of two periods the Jets were the better team. For the sixth time this season the Jets scored first and it came one minute into the game, Bryan Little finishing off some good work behind the net by Evander Kane and James Wright. It was Wright's first point as a Jet, Little's third goal of the year and extended Kane's point streak to four. In the second a good play at the Buffalo line by Ron Hainsey kept the puck in the Sabres end with Andrew Ladd finishing the play with his team-leading eighth goal of the year. He now has six in the last eight games. Getting caught up in trying to add to the lead Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien turned the puck over at the Buffalo line, leading to an odd man rush that resulted in Jason Pominville's seventh of the year with only 22 seconds left in the period. It was the second straight game the Jets gave up a late second period goal.
The Sabres came with an early third period charge, but Ondrej Pavelec in his 200th NHL game was terrific, and he again had to be good in the final stages of the period, first on a Buffalo power play, then when the Sabres pulled goalie Ryan Miller for an extra skater. In the final minute Kane shot a rolling puck over the empty Buffalo net resulting in one last face-off in the Jets zone. But a clean win by Jim Slater ended the game, giving the Jets back-to-back road wins, upping their road record to 3-3-1, while snapping a three game losing streak.
The five game road trip continues in Carolina Thursday. (Catch the game live at 6pm ct on TSN Jets and TSN Radio 1290 Winnipeg)
"We found a way to win by playing the right way," commented Coach Claude Noel post-game. "We can build off this win. Slater was real strong, especially on face-offs, Pavelec was fabulous, and the Little line could have really done some damage offensively, they were that good."
The Jets were three-for-three on the penalty kill, and only had one power play. We did see a different look with the man advantage, with Byfuglien in front of the net and Olli Jokinen at the point.
"Byfuglien is a big man and is a great screen, and Jokinen played the point when he was in Florida," continued Noel. "The win was a huge boost for our morale, losing wears you down. Winning cures a lot, but we have to build off this and win another one."