NEWARK, N.J. -- The Winnipeg Jets embarked on a six-game road trip as losers of four straight, so it was important to get off on the right foot against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
Thanks largely to goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, the Jets were able to do just that.
Pavelec made 24 saves as the Jets staved off a late push and survived with a 3-1 victory at Prudential Center. He has allowed two goals or fewer in five of his past six starts. In his first 15 starts, he held opponents to two goals or fewer only four times.
"He's always good," Jets left wing Evander Kane, who scored the winning goal in the second period, said of Pavelec. "The last three or four years, he's been our best player most nights and if not, always in the top three. He's always great and keeps us in a lot of games."
After a first period in which he faced just five shots, Pavelec stopped 18 of 19 over the final two periods. Devils left wing Patrik Elias cut the Jets' lead to 2-1 with 9:16 remaining in the third period, but Pavelec shut the door the rest of the way.
Jets right wing Devin Setoguchi capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 27.1 seconds remaining. But it was essentially a one-goal win, which is significant for the Jets. They had lost four straight entering their game against the Devils and had dropped three of those games by one goal.
"I think the sacrifices are part of it," said Jets coach Claude Noel, whose team blocked 14 shots. "But that's the way it's going to go. They're going to press. They pressed up on the boards. But I thought we were resilient in holding our position. We had some shifts that were really nerve-wracking.
"As the minutes wore down from eight minutes until the empty-net goal, I thought we were composed and fairly good. Pavelec had another strong game, which you need in those games."
Jets center Mark Scheifele broke a scoreless tie with 3:59 remaining in the first period with his first goal in 24 games. Left winger Michael Frolik made the play happen with a cross-ice pass right onto the tape of Scheifele, who snapped a wrist shot that beat Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.
"This game was a big test for us," Scheifele said. "We wanted to start this road trip off on a win. We just have to carry this to the rest of our games."
After Kane made it 2-0 at 7:14 of the second period, it looked very likely that the Devils were on their way to their league-high sixth shutout of the season. But Elias said he felt the Devils were pushing hard over the final two periods before breaking through in the third.
"We had a lot more chances than we did the previous three games," said Elias, referring to the Devils' 2-1-0 road trip that saw them generate 59 total shots. "We got better as the game went on. In the second period we had a lot of great opportunities. We just didn't put a puck in early enough."
Elias had a chance to cut the lead in half while the Devils were shorthanded not long after Kane's goal, but his one-time attempt that beat Pavelec rang off the crossbar.
Brodeur, who stopped 19 shots, said there may have been some rust after returning from the road trip.
"I thought in the second and third, we skated real well," Brodeur said. "We dictated the play. For sure, being down 2-0 maybe helped the way Winnipeg played, sat back a little more and got us going a little bit, but I didn't think there was a big effect. I thought we worked pretty hard."
The Devils ran into a hot Pavelec, who hopes to keep things rolling on the final five games of this road trip.
"It's a good start. It's always important how you start," Pavelec said. "But it's only one win. We got to focus for the next one and take the positives from this game and play the same in the next one."
NOTES: After missing 17 games with a neck injury, Jets D Jacob Trouba returned to the lineup. He was out since crashing head-first into the boards Oct. 18 against the St. Louis Blues. He played 19:59 and had one shot against the Devils. ... The Jets' next stop on their road trip is on Long Island on Wednesday. They will also face the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. ... Devils D Adam Larsson (lower body) was out of the lineup. ... D Bryce Salvador (fractured foot), D Anton Volchenkov (lower body), LW Ryane Clowe (concussion) and RW Stephen Gionta (ankle) were all absent for the Devils.