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Kevin Hayes’ late power-play goal gives Rangers win over Jets

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson (34) looks up

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson (34) looks up at the replay as New York Rangers' Brady Skjei (76), Brandon Pirri (73), Derek Stepan (21), Mats Zuccarello (36) and Chris Kreider (20) celebrate Kreider's goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Credit: AP / JOHN WOODS

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Kevin Hayes scored on the power play with 1:09 left in the third period to give the Rangers a 2-1 win over the Jets on Thursday night.

Ryan McDonagh sent a wrist shot toward the net from the blue line, and Hayes put in the rebound for his 11th goal. “That was a greasy goal — a point shot off about three guys and then just tipped it in,” Hayes said. “It was definitely puck luck, for sure.”

J.T. Miller picked up a secondary assist on the winner as the Rangers’ power play went 2-for-4. Chris Kreider’s power-play goal, assisted by Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello, opened the scoring 8:02 into the first period.

The Rangers have been lights out after each of their regulation losses this season, and they continued the trend with a win after losing to the Islanders on Tuesday night. The Rangers are 9-0-1 after a loss this season.

Backup Antti Raanta, who made 17 saves to improve to 6-1-0 in his eighth start this season, joked about coaches loving 2-1 wins. Said Alain Vigneault, “I love wins, and the score doesn’t really matter. I thought tonight we played a good game. We had a real strong first period. In the second period, they had a good push there where they were really active on their forecheck, and it made things challenging for us. Going into the third, we had two penalties to kill — we did a real good job there. We got a bounce in the third to get us that 2-1 lead.”

Kreider tallied his third goal in his last four games by completing a tic-tac-toe passing play. It began with Zuccarello and finished with Stepan sliding a cross-ice feed to Kreider, who was all alone in front.

Midway through the second, after an extended stretch of sustained pressure in the Rangers’ zone, Mark Scheifele added to his team-leading point total for the Jets with his 14th goal of the season. Scheifele tapped in a rebound in the crease after Paul Postma’s point blast.

Said McDonagh, “We’re getting close to 30 games in and the standings are really tight. There’s not too many points separating yourself from being in the playoffs or not, and it’s probably going to be that way the whole rest of the season. It’s crazy to think that we’re talking playoffs already, but I think it’s a good sign with our group. Every two points out there are huge.’’

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