Recap: Rangers Cool Their Jets In Loss to Winnipeg

Recap: Rangers Cool Their Jets In Loss to Winnipeg
Mar 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save on a shot by Winnipeg Jets center Vladislav Namestnikov (7) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers last saw the Jets in their ninth game of the season which ended up being an overtime win thanks to a goal from Mika Zibanejad. That was practically a whole season ago and a lot has changed on either side of the ice as both team’s have become heavy favorites in their respective conferences. With two of the league’s best goaltenders and a lot of high end skill up and down their lineups, we were surely in for an exciting battle but alas, the Rangers recent busy schedule may have caught up with them as they fell short in the final minute of the game.

1st Period:

It was a relatively quiet period given the fact that both team’s had to get a little reacquainted with each. The Rangers got off to another strong start as they established good pace and had a couple of decent chances in the offensive zone through the first half of the period. Winnipeg’s best chance came on a Mark Scheifele shot right at the back door that certainly would have been a goal had Erik Gustafsson not gotten in the way of it. The first twenty minutes was full of defensively strong plays from both team’s as there was plenty of skill going up and down both ends of the ice.

Just over the midway point of the period, Adam Fox took the first penalty of the night as he was called for interfering with Nino Niederreiter. Halfway through the man advantage to Winnipeg, Kyle Connor would put an end to his team’s power play as interfered with Chris Kreider while the Rangers attempted to clear the zone. That shift would end with quite the scrum as Braden Schneider collided with Scheifele just as the play was blown dead.

While the Rangers were attempting to get set up just before Adam Fox rejoined the play from the penalty box, a turnover resulted in a breakaway for Nikolaj Ehlers. Ehlers came in with great speed and pulled off a nice move that required a massive save from Igor Shesterkin to keep the score locked at zero. By the time the Rangers regained possession and brought the puck back to the offensive zone, they had about a minute’s worth of a partial power play but wouldn’t be able to get anything substantial going.

With about four minutes to go in the period, it was the Rangers turn on the breakaway, this time with Will Cuylle getting the chance off a nice play from Barclay Goodrow with a nice defensive play at the Rangers blueline. The Rangers spent the majority of those final minutes in the Jets’ zone but the strong goaltending of Connor Hellebuyck matched that of Shesterkin to keep things scoreless through the opening period. Rangers lead the way in shots on goal 13-8 but Winnipeg had the slight advantage in high danger chances.

2nd Period:

It was much of the same in the early parts of the second but just a couple of minutes into the period, Mark Scheifele picked up on a loose puck in the slot after a shot from Nate Schmidt at the point deflected off a stick in front, which slowed things down enough to throw Shesterkin off the play. 1-0 Winnipeg.

Nearing the halfway mark of the night, Kaapo Kakko drew a penalty against Josh Morrissey who got his stick caught up in his midsection to give the Rangers their first full two minutes man advantage. While the top power play unit wouldn’t find the back of the net, the second unit would as Alex Wennberg picked up his first goal as a New York Ranger. The play started and ended with Wennberg as he won the face-off and capitalized on a rebound that came as a result of a shot from Alexis Lafrenière at the point, making it a 1-1 game.

The offense continued to pick up as Alexis Lafrenière and Vincent Trocheck had a grade A scoring chance on a 2-on-1 soon after the goal that was shut down by Hellebuyck. The Jets immediately went the other way with it which required another big save from Shesterkin in what was becoming quite the goaltending battle.

Winnipeg went back to the power play with about eight minutes to go as Braden Schneider tied up Alex Iafallo which sent him off for hooking. It would only take the Jets 28 seconds to capitalize on the man advantage as Kyle Connor finished on a quick shot at the end of a great passing play from the Jets power play unit. A bit of an unlucky break as prior to Connor picking up the puck, Miller made a great play to block the initial shot that unfortunately bounced right in his direction.

With just two minutes to go in the second, Mark Scheifele continued to have an impactful night as found himself on yet another breakaway following a tough turnover from Chris Kreider. However this time, Scheifele would beat Shesterkin with a low, clean shot for his second of the night to make it a 3-1 game.

It was a strange night up to this point in the sense that the Rangers were playing good and had their moments but Winnipeg definitely had a higher sense of urgency which led to their impressive second period that earned them the 3-1 lead. On top of that, the Rangers were making more notable mistakes in the second that were proving to be quite costly. Shots were even through the second but the Rangers still had the slight total advantage 25-21. At 3-1 the game was still in reach but the Rangers needed some kind of spark if they were going to find their way back into it.

3rd Period:

It’s been a minute but we saw some line juggling to start the final period of regulation. Peter Laviolette opted to start a line of Panarin – Zibanejad – Lafrenière which was followed up by Kreider – Wennberg – Roslovic. K’Andre Miller was also bumped up to the top pair with Adam Fox moving Gustafsson with Braden Schneider. Honestly, not a bad idea to get experimental with things, especially after such a lackluster period in a game that doesn’t have a ton at stake.

Five minutes in, Kaapo Kakko took an offensive zone penalty taking down Neal Pionk behind Winnipeg’s net. This really could have been it for the Rangers night but they were able to come out with a great penalty kill and followed it up with a couple of strong shifts that generated some offense. Unfortunately, Hellebuyck wasn’t giving much and as play continued, time was quickly becoming of the essence.

The Rangers almost got another chance on the power play as Pionk sent the puck over the glass but upon review form the officials, it was ruled that a deflection off the glass therefore team’s remained at even strength. The Rangers continued to press and with three minutes to go, pulled Shesterkin for the extra attacker. At 6-on-5, the Rangers were moving the puck around incredibly and got a couple of really great scoring chances.

Finally, with just under two minutes to go, Alexis Lafrenière put home a rebound for his 20th of the season. A career high in what’s absolutely been a breakthrough season for the Rangers former first overall draft pick.

Chris Kreider came so darn close to tying this game up off another beautiful passing play from Lafrenière and Trocheck that set him up for the redirect right at the doorstep. Unfortunately, the puck was rolling and he couldn’t get enough on it cleanly and as time ran out, Scheifele found the empty net for his third of the night to give Winnipeg the 4-2 win. A sloppy second period from the Rangers definitely cost them here but it is worth mentioning the Rangers looked outstanding with the goalie pulled and played with a level of desperation that can be a difference maker come playoff time.

The Rangers week ahead won’t get any easier as their next two games are against the only two teams ahead of them in the league standings. They’ll look to get back on track Thursday Night as they ship up to Boston to take on the Bruins before hosting the Panthers back on home ice Saturday Night.