WINNIPEG – Despite his improved record in shootouts, Ondrej Pavelec is still not a fan.
The Winnipeg Jets (29-26-6) goalie has had little success in the shootout before this season, winning just eight times in 22 games decided by penalty shots. His record this season though is much better. Pavelec stopped three of four attempts in the Jets’ 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes (27-21-11) Thursday night, to improve to 6-3 in 2013-2014.
“I just don’t like it,” said Pavelec. “It has nothing to do with your success or not. I think the overtime is more fun for me as a player. The thing I don’t like is that you have a great game, you help the team to get to overtime and then three breakaways come. I don’t think it’s fair.”
Pavelec credits Jets’ goalie coach Wade Flaherty for his shootouts success this season.
“We been working on it a lot,” said Pavelec. “A lot of little details.”
Even though there’s a huge spotlight on goalies during shootouts, there’s just as much focus on those taking the shots. Devon Setoguchi has been the Jets best this season despite not having a shootout winner, having scored on four of his seven attempts.
“I think there’s pressure,” said Setoguchi. “But I think as players, we like to have that pressure. I think it makes us better and we have to handle adversity. It’s fun to play in those kind of games and those kind of situations.”
The Jets have won six of 11 games which have gone to a shootout this season. Andrew Ladd is the only Jet to have taken a shot in each one and has the most shootout goals with six. He also leads in deciding goals with three.
“When I first started taking them, it was a little more nerve wracking then it is now” said Ladd who has failed to score on his last five shootout attempts. “At the end of the day, I think you make your best shot and the chips fall where they fall.”
Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice says he’s had players tell him they didn’t want to be part of the shootout this season because they weren’t “feeling it”.
Blake Wheeler is probably not among that group. Wheeler, the team’s leading goal scorer, is one of the least successful when it comes to the shootout with just one goal on six attempts. But Wheeler wants Maurice to look his way when the game is on the line.
“They’re exciting to me,” said Wheeler. “Anytime you get the opportunity to go one-on-one with the goalie, I welcome that challenge.”
While winning in regulation is preferable, the Jets are still happy when they pick up two points in a shootout.
“End of the year those points can be difference,” said Pavelec. That extra point feels good.”
The Jets sit two points back of the Dallas Stars (28-21-10) for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference. Winnipeg visits the Nashville Predators (26-24-10) Saturday afternoon.