Rangers Down Jets, Keep Distance from Pens

The New York Rangers extended their lead in the Eastern Conference to five points with a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday night at the MTS Centre.

After a tough 3-2 win Tuesday night over the Minnesota Wild, the Rangers looked sluggish against a Winnipeg Jets team that was desperate for a win.  The Jets controlled the first period keeping the pressure on the Rangers defense, and forcing them into three bad penalties, including a five on three advantage. With help from Henrik Lundqvist (22 saves) the Rangers survived the first period and held the Jets scoreless through one period.

The Jets continued to dominate play in the second period, and four minutes into the period Spencer Machacek banked a pass off of Micahel Del Zotto through the pads of Lundqvist to put the Jets up 1-0. The Jets quickly added to the lead less than a minute later when Brian Little took a feed from Blake Wheeler, and slid the puck passed Lundqvist.

After Brandon Dubinsky took a slashing penalty, the Rangers looked like a beaten team. With the Jets on the power play, Ryan Callahan stole the puck behind the Jets net and found Del Zotto who stuffed the puck passed Ondrej Pavelec. The goal swung the momentum in the Rangers favor, and from that point on the Rangers controlled the game.

“You could tell how important that goal was for us and for the game,” said Henrik Lundqvist. “The entire building felt it.”

With two minutes left in the second period Alex Burmistrov took an interference penalty that led to a power play goal from Ryan Callahan and tied the game.

The Rangers began the third period on a three minute power play after Andrew Ladd took a double minor penalty for high-sticking at the end of the second period. The Rangers could not capitalize on the man advantage but continued to play in the Winnipeg zone. Brian Boyle gave the Rangers their first lead of the game early in the third period. Boyle took the puck from the corner and drove to the front of the net where he beat Pavelec on the short side for the eventual game winner. The goal was Boyle’s ninth of the year and his third goal in his last four games. Derrick Stepan added a power play goal later in the third to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead and victory.

The Rangers have won three games in a row on the road, and no games came easy to them. ”

It’s tough this time in the season. Every team comes out and plays hard no matter where they are in the standings,” said Derek Stepan. ” You have to find a way to compete for sixty minutes, and I think that is what we did the past few nights.”

The Rangers extended their lead on the Penguins to five points and are tied with the St. Louis Blues for tops in the NHL with 105 points, while the Jets have dropped their last three, and are all but out of the playoff race.

Both the Rangers and Jets return to action Friday night. The Rangers will go for their 50th win of the season against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden, and the Jets will be in Carolina.

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