Rangers leapfrogged by Jets after 3-1 loss in Winnipeg
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WINNIPEG -- Memo to the Rangers: Welcome to ninth place.
With a 3-1 win Thursday night, the Jets leapfrogged the Rangers above the Eastern Conference playoff line and sent the troubled Blueshirts to their second straight road loss.
It could've been far worse. The Jets, who have 30 points to the Rangers' 28, relentlessly drove to the net in waves and held their ground in front of Henrik Lundqvist, a tactic that resulted in the first two Jets goals. The second one, by Antti Miettinen, gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead with 5:08 left in the second.
Lundqvist was pulled with 1:34 left and Andrew Ladd ended it with an empty-netter with 39 seconds to go.
"We need those two points," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "Especially this late, there's not a lot of games left, and we have a big one in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Being in ninth place . . . the urgency has to be there. It doesn't matter what you're feeling in the room, it has to show on the ice."
The sellout crowd at MTS Center certainly enjoyed the resurgent Jets, who have won two in a row and are 7-2-1 in their last 10.
Nothing went right for the Rangers, who even failed to score on a penalty shot midway through the first period while trailing 1-0. Marian Gaborik was awarded one for being hooked from behind on a breakaway, but he skated straight in on the penalty shot and had the puck poked away by goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (28 saves). Gaborik, who smashed his stick at the Rangers' bench in frustration, is 0-for-4 on penalty shots as a Ranger and 2-for-8 in his career.
Coach John Tortorella said: "We've got to capitalize . . . When you have a penalty shot, a breakaway, some really good looks, we need to get it done there."
Rick Nash, who went pointless for the second game in a row, missed the net on a break-in in the first period.
In the second, Callahan scored his ninth goal when he tipped Derek Stepan's point shot past Pavelec at 1:11 to tie the score at 1. At 2:26, Nik Antropov's crosscheck of J.T. Miller gave the Rangers their only power play, which lasted just six seconds because Stepan took a hooking penalty.
Lundqvist, who made 30 saves, stopped Evander Kane's breakaway wrister in the second period to keep the score tied. But Dustin Byfuglien's wrister from the right point hit Miettinen's leg and bounced past Lundqvist to make it 2-1 with 5:08 left in the second.
"Games are decided in front of both nets," Lundqvist said. "We need to have more traffic in front of their net and we need to be tougher in front of our net."
After Byfuglien sent an unsuspecting Stepan down with a shoulder in the opening minute, the Jets swarmed the Rangers' zone and Michael Del Zotto was sent off for crosschecking at 1:46. Twelve seconds later, Antropov stationed himself at the right post, behind Ryan McDonagh, and deposited his own rebound of Byfuglien's shot from the right point for a 1-0 lead.
In the 4-3 loss to the Jets on Feb. 26, both Nash and McDonagh were out injured. As it turned out, the extra personnel didn't matter Thursday night.
And the Rangers, who finished first in the Eastern Conference last season, are on the outside looking in.