WINNIPEG – Confidence was the name of the game for Ondrej Pavelec and the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
The Jets goalie made 34 saves in Winnipeg’s close 2-1 victory over the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild.
“It’s a big win for us because it’s not easy to beat them,” said Pavelec, who picked up his 11th victory of the season. “We know we can beat those teams. They’re a really dangerous team. We beat Boston here, we beat Philly here, so they’re good teams, too.
“I think now we learn how to play against those teams and how to close the games.”
Bryan Little scored the winner for Winnipeg (14-12-4) with five minutes left in regulation time.
Little’s 11th goal of the season came at the end of a Wild penalty, a delay of game assessed to defenceman Clayton Stoner for shooting the puck over the glass.
The goal extended Little’s points streak to six games. He has five goals and four assists during that span.
“I think it gives us a lot of confidence,” said Little. “Lately we’ve been beating some really good teams and we’ve been playing real well in our home arena and kind of making this a tough rink to come play in.”
The loss halted Minnesota’s winning streak at seven games, but its 43 points (20-8-3) is still two points better than Philadelphia, which beat Washington 5-1 Tuesday.
Wild left-winger Guillaume Latendresse scored the game’s first goal in the second period on a two-man advantage.
Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian replied four minutes later with his first goal of the season when he beat Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom, who faced 27 shots.
Winnipeg has won eight of its last nine home games. The Wild match was the first of a six-game homestand.
The victory was also a nice way to rebound from a 7-1 rout by the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
“It feels great,” Little said. “That was a tough game for us and we wanted to bounce back after that and we did a great job of that tonight.”
The Wild return home to host Chicago on Wednesday.
“We kind of strayed away from the little things that we do that makes us successful,” Stoner said. “It’ll be good to try and come out tomorrow and redeem ourselves and play the kind of game we have been playing.”
Mikko Koivu assisted on Latendresse’s goal, extending his points streak to five games with three goals and four assists during that stretch.
Dany Heatley, playing in his 700th NHL game, also assisted on the goal. His seven-game points streak also includes three goals and four assists.
Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler assisted on Little’s goal at 15:00, which came at the end of a slick passing play.
“It was a really nice goal,” Little said. “Wheeler made a great pass to Byfuglien and Byfuglien kind of, I think, had everyone thinking he was going to shoot and just slid it over to me back door.”
Minnesota went on the power play with 1:06 left to go when Bogosian was called for boarding and also got a game misconduct.
Notes: Winnipeg had forward Eric Fehr and defenceman Ron Hainsey back from injury…Minnesota’s longest winning streak in franchise history was nine games in 2007.