Rangers lose fourth straight as rally falls short against Winnipeg Jets

Ryan Callahan of the Rangers skates off the

Ryan Callahan of the Rangers skates off the ice as the Winnipeg Jets celebrate their victory. (Feb. 26, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The frantic third-period rally at Madison Square Garden was intense, featuring the most pressure that the sinking Rangers had put on Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec all night.

The Rangers trailed by two goals entering the third period and outshot their opponent 14-6, but the Jets held on to beat the Rangers, 4-3, Tuesday night.

Taylor Pyatt broke a 13-game drought to cut a 3-1 lead to 3-2 and defenseman Anton Stralman sliced a 4-2 lead to 4-3, and the Rangers continued to swarm, but it wasn't enough to avert their fourth straight loss, dropping the Rangers (8-8-2) to 11th place in the East.

"Hopefully, we are going to get some progress from the third period, some confidence," said Marian Gaborik, who assisted on Stralman's goal. "We know we have a good group out there."

No one can blame Ryan Callahan. The Rangers captain did all he could to spark the depleted team. He fearlessly blocked two slap shots by Zach Bogosian, cut the Jets' 2-0 lead in half in the second period on a rebound and almost scored shorthanded. But the Rangers could not capitalize on the energy of the right wing when it counted.

Help might be on the way: Rick Nash, who missed his fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury, was at the morning skate and said he felt better and hoped to return soon.

With two of their top four defensemen out injured -- Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto -- the Rangers had to shuffle their six defensemen and that often resulted in a scramble in their own zone.

Defensive errors weren't the only problem. Callahan's goal at 9:28 of the second period ended a 102:53 scoreless stretch. The Rangers were shut out in Montreal on Saturday.

To add insult to injury, two of the Jets' first three goals were netted by Olli Jokinen, the former Ranger who came via trade from Calgary, along with Brandon Prust, in February 2010. And Winnipeg was playing its third road game in four nights.

After a scoreless first period, Callahan made his stellar defensive plays on the same shift -- one block and a diving clearing attempt without a stick, bringing the crowd to its feet with a chant of "Cal-ly, Cal-ly." But Jokinen scored at 5:55 and just 1:07 later, Evander Kane fired a shot from the right circle that clanged off the far post and angled in.

Callahan didn't slow down, even if the Rangers stalled. He pounced on a puck that rolled behind Pavelec (30 saves) and scored his fifth of the season at 9:28. Brian Boyle went off for kneeing to short-circuit any momentum at that point.

The Rangers trailed 3-1 in the third period before the teams traded three goals in 1:13. Pyatt deflected Stralman's shot in at 9:17. Twenty seconds later, Kane scored his second goal on a shot that trickled through Henrik Lundqvist's pads. "The fourth one I need to stop, it squeezed through my pad and my glove," said Lundqvist (28 saves).

Fifty-three seconds later, Stralman scored on a rebound of a Brad Richards shot to close the gap to a goal. But Pavelec held his ground when Lundqvist was pulled for an extra attacker.

"At the end, you'd like to see him [Callahan] rewarded; we're one shot shy," John Tortorella said. "If we get some people back and we have that type of effort, we'll be on our way."

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