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Second (period) helping fuels Jets

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Winnipeg Jets are filling up on seconds.

Second periods, that is.

The Jets scored three goals in the second period and held on for a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night before a sellout crowd at MTS Centre.

Winnipeg (20-19-2) has won two straight games at home and has four to go on its current six-game homestand.

On Saturday, the Jets beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1, scoring all four goals in the second period.

"It's two games in a row we've had some good opportunities in the second period and we've been able to get our offense going," said captain Andrew Ladd, who scored his 15th goal of the year with just 22 seconds left in the second period as the Jets went up 3-0.

"We obviously have to get on a little run here, and there's no better place than to do it in this building. We're getting the fans going on our side, and revved up for a good run here."

The Jets are ninth in the Eastern Conference but within striking distance of the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators, both with 44 points, and the New York Rangers with 42.

The Jets had lost five straight before beating the Flyers.

"To get that feeling of winning hockey games and that winning feeling in the room again, it's the ultimate cure," Ladd said. "We like what we've done in the last two games, but we know there's a long way to go and we have to keep our foot on the pedal."

Kyle Wellwood and Aaron Gagnon scored second-period goals for the Jets, and Blake Wheeler slid in an empty-netter late in the third.

Kevin Porter scored early in the third period for the Sabres (16-18-6), who play host to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

The Sabres were coming off three straight victories to start April, beating Pittsburgh, Ottawa and New Jersey.

"It's a tough building to play in. But I thought we weathered the storm pretty well and we had some chances that we needed to capitalize on but we didn't do that," Porter said. "We're fighting for our lives every night. We know how tight the race is. These are all playoff games now, so we just have to take one game at a time."

The Jets outshot the Sabres 11-9 in the first period and had several great scoring chances, only to be denied by goalie Ryan Miller.

Wheeler said the momentum carried over into the second period, and pucks started hitting the back of the net.

"We were able to capitalize on some opportunities," said Wheeler, who has 15 goals and is tied with Ladd for the team lead. "We've been really good this year going into the third period with leads. That's excellent for us."

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who saved 29 shots, said it's a lot more fun when the guns are blazing.

"It's the second time in a row we scored (at least) three goals in the second period and that's always huge for you," he said. "Offensively, I think we did a great job."

Miller made 26 saves in the Buffalo net.

Wellwood benefited from a crazy bounce to open the scoring for the Jets at 4:54 of the second period. Evander Kane took a slap shot from a bad angle, the puck hit a skate and ricocheted right to Wellwood alone in the slot. He wristed his fourth goal of the season into a wide-open net.

Winnipeg went up 2-0 when Gagnon converted a perfect feed from Dustin Byfuglien for his first NHL goal. Gagnon had just two assists in 30 career games in four NHL seasons, split between Dallas and Winnipeg. Called up last week from the St. John's IceCaps, Gagnon was the AHL's player of the month for March.

Ladd's pretty deke on Miller with just 22 seconds left in the second period increased the hosts' lead to 3-0.

The Sabres' only goal came in the third period when Porter banked a shot off Wheeler's skate.

Jets blue-liner Toby Enstrom was injured in the first period and did not return. Earlier in the season, Enstrom was out for more than a month with a shoulder injury.

NOTES: Thomas Vanek, the Sabres' leading scorer, returned to the lineup Tuesday night after missing six games with an upper-body injury. ... Buffalo winger Patrick Kaleta's stick went flying four rows into the crowd when he got body-checked by Winnipeg's Chris Thorburn. Fans booed loudly when a youngster had to give it back. ... Kane took his league-leading 23rd minor penalty in the first period. ... Jacob Trouba, 19, is skating with the Jets but there's no timetable to get the blue-liner into the lineup. Trouba, a native of Rochester, Mich., who left the University of Michigan last week and signed with Winnipeg, was drafted in the first round, ninth overall, in 2012. ... Miller is just five games shy of 500. ... The Jets have 1,140 hits this season, ranking fourth in the NHL behind Toronto (1,285), the Rangers (1,177) and Los Angeles (1,165). ... Buffalo's last win in Winnipeg was in February 1993, three years before the Jets left for Phoenix. ... The Jets host the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
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