Winnipeg Jets outshoot, outscore Sabres

The Winnipeg Jets outshot the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, with Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn contributing to a 3-1 win at the MTS Centre.
The Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler puts the puck past Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on a breakaway during the third period in Winnipeg on Monday. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)

The Winnipeg Jets outshot the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night, with Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn contributing to a 3-1 win at the MTS Centre.

The Buffalo Sabres (30-27-8) landed in Winnipeg, having won all three games of their current road trip, and inching to within two points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, currently occupied by the Jets (32-27-8).

A red-hot Ryan Miller — credited by some as the main reason for the Sabres late-season push — got the start in net for the Sabres, while the ever-reliable Ondrej Pavelec got the nod for the Jets.

Newly-acquired defenceman Grant Clitsome dressed for the home team, taking the place of a reinjured Zach Bogosian, who took a slapshot off the skate in Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers.

The clubs appeared evenly matched for the first half of the opening period with Miller, starting his ninth consecutive game, making the trickier stops.

Ladd opens up scoring

The Jets struck first with 6:35 remaining, when captain Andrew Ladd slapped the bouncing rebound of a Bryan Little shot past a confounded Miller.

The sell-out crowd went wild, sensing the importance of the evening's matchup. The period ended with the Jets outshooting the Sabres 10-7.

The first penalty of the game came at the six-minute mark of the second period, when Jim Slater went off on a boarding minor for his hit on Buffalo defenseman Mike Weber.

Just 35 seconds after the penalty expired, Ladd went to the box for hooking. The Jets, who are 18th in the league on the penalty kill at home, successfully fought off both shorthanded stints.

Midway through the second, beloved ex-Jets captain Dale Hawerchuk appeared on the scoreclock from his seat in one of the MTS Centre's private boxes.

Fans roared their approval while Hawerchuk smiled and waved, eventually sliding off his stool and standing to acknowledge the cheering crowd.

The period ended with the Sabres tying the score with 35 seconds left to go. Corey Tropp jammed his second of the year past Pavelec in a scramble for a Brad Boyes wrister.

Wheeler breakaway goal

The Jets took the lead at the 8:02 mark of the third period on a Blake Wheeler breakaway that stoned Miller and sent him sliding back into his net, whipping the crowd into another frenzy, as True North co-owner David Thomson smiled from his seat high in the press box.

Bryan Little drew the assist on the breakaway, feeding Wheeler at centre ice with a perfect pass from behind the Jets' blueline.

Two minutes and 52 seconds later, Chris Thorburn scored his fifth goal of the season, rushing the net from Miller's left, and potting his own rebound, kicked out by the goalie's right pad.

The raucous crowd took advantage of Miller's predicament, chanting "Sil-ver Med-al, Sil-ver Med-al!" in reference to the U.S. hockey team's silver medal win at the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Miller was netminder.

The game ended with the Jets outshooting the Sabres 31 to 24.