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Rangers face Jets without key players, but Michael Grabner returns

Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers celebrates

Michael Grabner of the New York Rangers celebrates his third-period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Credit: Jim McIsaac

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Rangers made some lineup changes Thursday night for their lone visit to MTS Centre this season. But Alain Vigneault wasn’t overly concerned about his lineup after Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders. His club entered Thursday night’s game 8-0-1 after a loss this season and lifted that to 9-0-1 with a 2-1 victory over the Jets.

“It’s going to be a good lineup. Obviously we’re missing a couple key elements, but every team in the NHL goes through injuries,” Vigneault said before the game. “Like I’ve mentioned many times, it’s an opportunity for some other players to step in and have more ice time and a bigger role.”

Rookie forward Jimmy Vesey missed a game for the first time this season after taking a slash to the forearm Tuesday night. He is listed as day-to-day. Vesey joined injured forwards Mika Zibanejad (broken leg), Pavel Buchnevich (back), Matt Puempel (concussion) and Rick Nash (groin).

Michael Grabner, who missed Tuesday night’s game to attend his grandmother’s funeral, was among a few Rangers who took part in Thursday’s morning skate.

“[Grabner] will go back with Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller,” Vigneault said. “He’s had success with them, and I’m confident he’s going to do a good job.”

Jensen makes debut

Niklas Jensen, recalled Wednesday from AHL Hartford, played in his first game for the Rangers. He was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in the Emerson Etem trade in January.

“Our guys were saying that he was playing well [in Hartford] — a big body that uses his size. I’ve seen in the past, there’s some potential there,” said Vigneault, who spent time with Jensen as coach of the Canucks in 2012-13. “Hopefully he can come in and play a good high-percentage game for us and help us win.”

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