TORONTO – Ondrej Pavelec succeeded at something he dislikes on Saturday.
Pavelec was bested only once in 10 shootout attempts to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a marathon 5-4 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
But despite outlasting Toronto goalie James Reimer and frustrating so many of the Leafs players, it wasn’t nearly enough to alter Pavelec’s opinion of the shooter-versus-goalie showdown that the NHL introduced in 2006.
“I just don’t like the shootouts at all,” said the native of Kladno, Czech Republic, with a laugh. “I’ve said so many times, I just don’t like the shootout. But I’m happy at the end of the day to get the two points.”
Pavelec’s aversion is more practical than philosophical. The shootout win against the Leafs was his first as well as the team’s first of the season.
“I don’t have a good record in the shootout,” he said. “I just don’t like the shootouts, I’d rather play 20 minutes of overtime, I don’t care.”
The 25-year-old goalie has a record of 1-2 in the shootout this season and a career mark of 7-14. He surrendered three goals on six shots in his first two shootouts of 2012-13, but Pavelec padded his stats versus Toronto allowing just one goal on 10 shots against the likes of Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul—who returned to the Leafs’ lineup after missing 25 games with a fractured forearm.
Tyler Bozak was the lone player to put the puck past Pavelec, making a quick forehand-backhand deke and slipping a shot between the Jets goalie’s legs.
“They hit the post three times so I was lucky there, too,” Pavelec said. “I made some saves and I knew if I was patient that one of our guys would score. It was a wild game, but a great two points.”
Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian, the 20th player to skate in alone on the opposing goalie, finally beat Reimer to deliver the win for Winnipeg. Blake Wheeler, who scored two goals in the second period, also tallied in the shootout.
“It was kind of the first time that I’ve been in a shootout that long,” Pavelec said. “I didn’t expect that it would last that long. But it’s a part of hockey, you know, people want the shootout and they got the shootout.”
Pavelec concedes that nobody has an unfair advantage in the shootout and that it’s personal taste. One win—even a 10-round decision—wasn’t about to change his mind.
“It’s the same for everybody,” he said. “Some guys are good at the shootout, some guys are not.”