Special teams, which haunted the Rangers last game, came through tonight in a big way as the Rangers secured a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Rangers power play converted twice this evening, including a late game-winning goal with a little over a minute left in regulation. Antti Raanta only faced 18 total shots tonight, as the Rangers did a great job of keeping the Jets chances to the outside.
With the Rangers down two more top-six forwards in Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey, the Rangers needed to have a quick start with their depleted lineup. Thankfully, that quick start came in the form of several dangerous scoring opportunities. After coming up empty on their first couple of chances, the Rangers finally buried one at the 8:02 mark of the first on Chris Kreider’s seventh goal of the season.
Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan picked up the assists on the goal, with Stepan finishing it off with a beautiful pass to Kreider camped out on the backdoor. The pass landed right on Kreider’s tape, and all he had to do was nudge it over the goal line for the 1-0 lead.
The Rangers were able to keep that lead in their possession until the halfway mark of the second period, when the Jets finally caught a break. Following a long shift in the Rangers end, Paul Postma’s point shot wound up handcuffing Raanta and he dropped the rebound inside the crease. Mark Scheifele was in perfect position to pounce on the rebound, and he shoveled it into the empty net to even up the game at one.
With the Rangers controlling most of the first period, and the Jets countering in the second, that left the third period as the decider. A majority of the period played out in the neutral zone, with both teams tightening up their defense in a tie game. Thankfully, with about two minutes remaining, Drew Stafford took a costly offensive zone penalty that sent the Rangers to the power play.
Much like in the first period, the Rangers were able to make the Jets pay for their mistake, and Kevin Hayes tapped home a loose puck at the 18:51 mark. Nicklas Jensen did an excellent job of providing the screen in front, which prevented Michael Hutchinson from seeing the loose puck. The Rangers were able to kill off the remaining 1:09 on the clock following the goal, and secured a big 2-1 victory on the road.
This was a big bounce back win for the Rangers, and they did so minus Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey. It was also the first time the Rangers have won a game where they scored less than three goals, and it was nice to see them lock this one down. Following tonight’s win, the Rangers will get right back on the road for a meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow night.