New York Rangers 4 Winnipeg Jets 2 (Jets 30-29-9, home 15-14-6) – The loss drops the Jets to six points back of the Dallas Stars, after Dallas picked up a single point in a shootout loss to Calgary. The Stars were up 3-1 in the third. Stars and Jets will meet at the MTS Centre Sunday night (TSN Jets, TSN 1290) in what is a must win for the Jets. The Jets and Stars will meet in Dallas later this month, the Stars have two games in hand. For the Jets it's six straight without a win, five straight at home without a win. The Jets lost Ondrej Pavelec with a lower body injury after the first period and lost Chris Thorburn early in the second with a lower body injury after he blocked a shot.
The Rangers opened the scoring at 1:15, Carl Hagelin deflecting a shot past Pavelec. The goal came off a face off following a very debatable icing call against the Jets. But the Jets got that one back 1:18 later, Dustin Byfuglien batting home a rebound for his 17th of the year and fourth in the last four games. Blake Wheeler and Toby Enstrom drew assists. 53 seconds later the Jets took the lead with Andrew Ladd beating Henrik Lundqvist with a wrist shot for his second in as many games and 19th of the year. Ladd has now scored five goals in the last seven games. The goal gives him a team leading 65 since the team relocated to Winnipeg. Assists went to Bryan Little and Michael Frolik. Little extending his point streak to four games. Chris Kreider with his 17th would tie the game at 11:28, with the Jets outshooting the Rangers 11-8.
Al Montoya came out to start the second and the Jets came out strong, but despite a number of great chances could not get the go ahead goal. As the Rangers finished killing back to back penalties, Martin St. Louis came out of the penalty box and set up Hagelin for his second of the game at 19:52 of the period to give the Rangers the lead. The Rangers are 21-1-1 when leading after two. Shots in the second were 11-7 Jets.
The Jets had to kill a penalty early in the third but then again applied pressure on the Rangers. Lundqvist was terrific in picking up his 301st win, tying Mike Richter for the franchise lead. Hagelin's first NHL hat-trick made it a 4-2 game and the Rangers locked it down after that. Shots in the third were 10-8 Jets and 32-23 Jets over the game.
Jacob Trouba led the Jets in ice time for the 12th time this season at 23:42, Wheeler had six shots on goal, Evander Kane five, but both saw their goalless streaks go to seven for Wheeler and eleven for Kane. Jim Slater was the best face-off man winning 10 of 15. The penalty kill was four for four, the power play zero for four.
"We need more out of our power play," said Captain Ladd post-game. "But the guys in here have not given up." Coach Paul Maurice also felt the struggling power play was a key part of the game. "It's tough. We had a lot of pressure before they scored their second and their third. And then the 3-2 goal clearly changed how we moved the puck and how we moved some things around – an important piece to the game. It was tough." In many parts of the game the Jets have been better in the past six games than in a lot of the games they won after the coaching change. It was a frustrated dressing room post game. "There should be frustration. We had too many good looks, too many blocked shots."
Six points out with teams in between puts the Jets in a difficult spot (14 games remain), with sweeping the home and home with Dallas now a must, and clean wins to boot, no overtime. The chase resumes Sunday against the Stars (TSN Jets, TSN 1290) with the season on the line.