WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Aaron Gagnon's first NHL goal was quite important to the playoff-hopeful Winnipeg Jets.
Gagnon netted the winning goal in the Jets' 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. Gagnon played in just his third game since he was called up from the AHL.
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"The first one always is the one you remember for the rest of your life," the 26-year-old Gagnon said. "I guess you couldn't get them at a better time, especially right now when we're trying to claw our way back in the playoff race."
Kyle Wellwood, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler had Winnipeg's other goals.
Kevin Porter had the only goal for the Sabres in the third period, spoiling what could have been Ondrej Pavelec's first shutout of the season. Porter's shot glanced off Wheeler.
Pavelec finished with 29 saves.
It was the second consecutive win for the Jets during a six-game homestand they might have to sweep to make the playoffs. They trail Washington by two points in the Southeast Division.
"I think we like what we've done the last two games but there's a long way to go here and we've got to keep our foot on the pedal," said Ladd, who had a goal and an assist in the second period.
Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said his team has to use the same formula Thursday when it faces the Florida Panthers, currently last in the Eastern Conference.
The Jets are tied in points with the New York Rangers, who are in eighth place in East. The Washington Capitals remained two points ahead at the top of the Southeast Division after a win in Montreal on Tuesday.
Wellwood scored first for the Jets, a wrist shot from the slot off a pass from Evander Kane just under five minutes into the second period that beat Ryan Miller.
Gagnon fired a slap shot from the same spot on a pass from Dustin Byfuglien.
Just before the period ended, Bryan Little and Ladd got a jump on a race to the Sabres' net and Ladd fired one past a prone Miller.
Wheeler finished things with an empty-netter.
The Jets dominated early. The first period looked like a Winnipeg power play until the last few minutes. It took almost seven minutes for the Sabres to put a shot on the board.
Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston said his team turned it on in the third period, but by then it was too late.
"We were lucky to get some bounces there but again there was a couple of odd-man rushes we didn't even get a shot on net," he said. "Obviously that's important."
Both teams struck out on their power-play opportunities, three for the Sabres and one for the Jets.
Both defenseman Tobias Enstrom and Little headed to the Winnipeg dressing room during the first. Little was hit by a puck fired by a teammate but it wasn't clear what happened to Enstrom. Little returned, Enstrom did not.
Pavelec passed 6,000 saves for his five-season career. ... Winnipeg has won every game this season in which Kane has had more than one point.
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|04:54||- Kyle Wellwood (4), Snap Shot. Assist: Kane|
|10:04||- Aaron Gagnon (1), Slap Shot. Assist: Byfuglien|
|19:38||- Andrew Ladd (15), Wrist Shot. Assist: Little|
|04:54||- Kevin Porter (3), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.|
|19:34||- Blake Wheeler (15), Empty Net. Assist: Ladd, Little|
|02:30||Myers, 2 min, Hooking|
|17:06||Kane, 2 min, High sticking|
|06:00||Stuart, 2 min, Cross Check|
|16:17||Ladd, 2 min, Tripping|
|Shots On Goal|