NEWARK, N.J. – Having Ondrej Pavelec earn his 100th NHL win and seeing Mark Scheifele and Evander Kane break goal droughts were nice highlights for the Winnipeg Jets.
Ending a four-game losing streak was much more important.
Scheifele and Kane gave the Jets the lead, and Pavelec turned aside 25 shots in a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
“This was huge,” said forward Olli Jokinen, who set up Kane’s goal with a faceoff win. “Any win is good, but getting one to start a six-game road trip, we needed this one. It was like a must-win for us to get back to .500 and feel good about ourselves moving forward.”
Winnipeg (11-11-4), which moved to the Western Conference this season, was tied for last place in the Central Division starting the night. The Jets were 0-2-2 in their previous four games.
Devin Setoguchi added an empty-net goal in the final minute, sending the Devils to their second straight loss.
“We had chances to score two or three and we just didn’t put them in the back of the net,” said Devils coach Pete DeBoer, whose team returned from a 2-1 California trip.
Pavelec was less than 10 minutes from his second shutout of the season when Patrik Elias deflected a shot from the point by Andy Greene past him.
Elias scored his fifth goal of the season after earlier firing a shot off the crossbar in the second period during a short-handed, 2-on-1 break.
The Devils spent most of the third period in the Jets’ zone, but Pavelec came up big. He made his best stop against Adam Henrique, who shot from low in the left circle with just over four minutes to play.
Pavelec laughed when reminded that the win was his 100th.
“We lost four games in a row and I totally forgot,” he said. “It’s nice, but the number means nothing. A win for tonight was what I was worried about.”
Scheifele, who scored the Jets’ first goal of the season, ended a 24-game goal drought with 3:59 left in the first period on a wide-open shot from the right circle that found the top corner of the net. The goal came on a quick counterattack.
Michael Frolik took a cross-ice pass in the defensive zone, skated into the left side of the Devils’ end, and sent a cross-ice pass to Scheifele, who came late down the right side.
Former Devils forward Matt Halischuk helped set up the shot by allowing Frolik’s pass to go through to Scheifele.
“It felt pretty good to score there,” Scheifele said. “I feel pretty happy, but I’m a little more happy about the win.”
Kane ended an 11-game goal drought at 7:16 of the second period, just seconds after Devils goalie Martin Brodeur stopped a point blank shot that Jokinen set up with a pass from behind the net. The shot hit Brodeur and dropped on the goal line. The play was reviewed, and the no-goal call was upheld.
Jokinen won the ensuing faceoff from Travis Zajac and sent the puck to Kane on the outside edge of the circle. He fired the puck at the net, and it beat Brodeur after possibly hitting off the stick of defenceman Marek Zidlicky. It was his seventh goal of the season and third against New Jersey.
“It was a big goal for our team and gave us a two-goal lead,” Jokinen said. “It’s good for him. He has been working hard and playing hard. He just hasn’t been able to score lately, so it was good to see him score.”
NOTES: Jets D Jacob Trouba, the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NHL draft, returned to the lineup after he missed 17 games with an upper-body injury. … Winnipeg D Dustin Byfuglien had two assists, giving him a team-high 15. … The Devils were without D Adam Larsson (lower body) and C Stephen Gionta (ankle). They were hurt Saturday at San Jose. … The Jets beat the Devils 3-0 on Oct. 13 in Winnipeg.