Winnipeg Jets End Eight-Game Homestand with 3-1 Win over Buffalo Sabres

Anthony Capocci@CapocciJETSContributor IMarch 5, 2012

WINNIPEG, CANADA - MARCH 5: Blake Wheeler #26 and Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets celebrate a goal by Andrew Ladd #16 against of the Buffalo Sabres in NHL action at the MTS Centre on March 5, 2012 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
Marianne Helm/Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets finished their eight-game homestand with a 5-1-2 record, topping it off tonight with a dominating performance against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres entered play red-hot with wins in their last three, finding themselves right back in the thick of things in the playoff race.

The Jets knew that if they were going to outlast Buffalo, they'd have to overcome the all-world goaltender who has found his groove once again, Ryan Miller.

Andrew Ladd started off the scoring with his 21st of the season which gave the Jets a 1-0 lead after one.

The Sabres top line struggles continued, and their offense was going to need a push from improbable candidates if they were going to score in this game. 

An unlikely goal from Corey Tropp with just 35 seconds to go in the second period notched the game at one. It was the only time the Sabres managed to get one by Ondrej Pavelec.

In the third period, where the Jets have been phenomenal as of late, Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn scored both Jets goals.

Wheeler's 15th of the season gave the Jets the lead, and Thorburn's fourth all but put it away.

Miller kept the Sabres in it with top-notch saves which would have opened the flood gates, but the Jets dominated for the better part of the game and were able to get the well-deserved win.

Bryan Little was the first star of the game with three assists.

ANALYSIS: The Sabres trailed the Jets by two points coming into this game. They now fall four points out of eighth place.

The win for the Jets gained them some room while the loss for the Sabres keeps them in a dog fight with two other teams.

The crowd was extremely loud and supportive just as they've been all season. It felt like a playoff game.

The truth is, every game from here on out is a playoff game. It is imperative the Jets treat these 15 remaining games in that sense.

The Jets were able to take two points tonight to pad their playoff lead in the eighth spot by four points, and shorten the gap with the Florida Panthers by two points.

Nine of the 15 games remaining for Winnipeg will be played on the road.  

Winnipeg will be tested this coming Friday with a back-to-back in Vancouver and Calgary.

Road wins are going to be essential for the Jets to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race.