Following a game where they went scoreless on six power plays and allowed a deflating goal on a penalty kill, the New York Rangers‘ special teams was in desperate need of a special night.
They got it on Thursday night in Manitoba, as both New York tallies were earned with a man advantage, while the shorthanded Rangers, both with guys in the penalty box and out, kept the Winnipeg Jets’ scoring to a minimum in a 2-1 victory at MTS Centre.
Missing several of their top forwards, with Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey sitting out last night’s thriller, the Rangers (18-9-1) nonetheless managed to pick two key points on the road. Winnipeg opportunities were limited, as the Jets mustered just 18 shots thanks to a stingy Rangers defensive effort. On the offensive side, things got to an early start when Chris Kreider, extending a point streak to four games, scored on the first power play of the night for a 1-0 lead.
While the Rangers were able to hold Winnipeg’s young superstar Patrik Laine in check, as the NHL’s second leading goal scorer didn’t manage a shot on net in 17:53 of ice time, Marc Scheifele picked up the scoring slack, keeping his own respectable tally high with his 14th goal of the season to knot things up. Afterwards, Nick Holden briefly put the Rangers in a pickle with a delay of game penalty, but the Jets (13-14-3) killed it off themselves before the halfway point as Jacob Trouba was called for slashing.
The Rangers played with fire in the third period, as both Josh Jooris and Michael Grabner each took respective high-sticking and tripping penalties. However, the penalty kill kept Antti Raanta’s workload limited, as the Jets managed just five shots in the final frame.
The hard work paid dividends in the penultimate minute of regulation, as the Rangers
went on the power play for the late stages in the third thanks to Drew Stafford’s high-sticking penalty. It was Kevin Hayes who notched the winner, as the puck reached him following the deflection of a Ryan McDonagh shot, allowing to put it into an open net for the game winner with 69 seconds to go until a potential overtime. The Rangers kept the Jets off the board for the rest of the way, improving to 8-0-1 following a loss this season.
This win allowed the Rangers to sweep their two game set with Winnipeg this season, the first time they have done so since the 2011-12 season, when the Jets were still in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers return to action immediately, facing off with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night (8:30 PM, MSG+/NHL Network).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490