November 03 2011 08:03PM
Johnny Oduya stepped up. Ondrej Pavelec stepped up. Evander Kane stepped up.
Nobody needed a hero more than the Winnipeg Jets did on Thursday night. With defensemen Tobias Enstrom (broken collar bone), Ron Hainsey and Derek Meech already on the shelf, the Jets needed somebody to play better than he has all season in order to give the club the spark required to win another road game.
Head coach Claude Noel got it from one unlikely source, one usual suspect and one suddenly happy camper.
UNLIKELY: Oduya, the king of the turnover, got himself 24 shifts and played 22 minures -- mostly in the third period -- scored a goal and made a handful of solid defensive plays as he helped Pavelec get his first Winnipeg shutout, in a 3-0 win on Long Island.
THE USUAL SUSPECT: Pavelec, meanhile, was simply sensational, making 34 saves and giving the Jets exactly what they needed to go to 3-1 in the first four games of this seven-game road swing.
HAPPY BOY: And then there was Evander Kane. A couple of weeks ago he was complaining to friends that he wasn't being treated well by Noel. Last night, he responded to almost 17 minutes of ice time by being the best forward on the ice for the Jets. He scored the first -- and winning -- goal, picked up an assist and finished with a plus-minus mark of plus-three.
Even for a guy who isn't unhappy, that's a heck of a night.
"I thought Johnny played well, especially in the third period," said Noel in the post-game interview scrum that has become a television staple in Winnipeg. "He moved the puck well and I thought he was good all night.
"Pavelec was terrific for us. He was really outstanding."
The Jets are now 5-6-1 on the season, but they lost Randy Jones to a foot injury after he blocked a shot in the third period. If he can't go in Jersey on Saturday, the Jets might have to dig deep into the farm again. They say Paul Postma is ready.
As Johnny Oduya proved on Thursday, he'd better be.