Olli Jokinen’s third-period outburst for the Winnipeg Jets put any talk of a New York Rangers goalie controversy to rest.
Not that there was much of one to begin with.
Jokinen scored the go-ahead and insurance goals against rookie Cam Talbot and pushed the Jets to a 5-2 victory over New York on Monday night.
By the time Blake Wheeler put a puck into an empty net in the final minute, Talbot was on the bench mulling his second NHL loss.
”I thought I felt all right, still not where I wanted to be,” said Talbot, who made 25 saves in his second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist. ”Four goals is not going to cut it. I can’t expect the guys to go and score five goals for me every night.”
Up until this one, three was plenty for Talbot to win. He already has two shutouts to his credit and he hadn’t allowed more than two goals in his first seven starts — a Rangers record.
Jokinen broke a 2-2 tie with 7:18 left and scored again 5:24 later. The former Rangers forward, who also assisted on Devin Setoguchi’s tying goal in the second period, gathered the puck after a strange carom and fired it in.
”Their guy just kind of rimmed it back behind the net,” Talbot said. ”I think it hit his skate right behind and ricocheted off and went out front. It actually did hit my stick, but it ended up right back at front.
”That’s my fault. I’ve got to put it right back to the corner,” he added.
Jokinen then squeezed his sixth of the season between Talbot’s pads to make it 4-2 with 1:54 left.
Talbot had won six straight starts, including a victory Saturday over Vancouver in his Madison Square Garden debut, when he made a career-best 35 saves.
John Albert also scored in his NHL debut for Winnipeg, which got 35 saves from Ondrej Pavelec in the fourth-game of its season-high, six-game road trip (3-1).
”This was a really great win,” Jokinen said. ”We played another solid road game. I’m very glad to get the two goals and see Albert get his first goal on his first shot. ‘I was telling him about a guy back home who scored on his first seven shots, so he’s got a ways to go.”
Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Callahan had goals for New York (14-14).
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wouldn’t reveal who the goalie would be Thursday at Buffalo. After that, New York will begin a nine-game homestand.
The Rangers, 4-3 in their last seven, haven’t been more than one over .500 this season.
”We’re definitely not getting the traction that I know we want,” Vigneault said. ”The only way we’re going to get traction and get better is by playing more consistent hockey. Is this team a .500 hockey club? We’re certainly playing like one.”
After the Jets took a 2-1 lead in the second, Callahan got the Rangers back even with his seventh, scored with 4:10 left in the second.
Winnipeg turned the tide in the opening seven minutes of the period when the Jets outshot the Rangers 6-1, and that total didn’t include drives by defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba, who hit the crossbar and right post, respectively, five minutes apart.
The Jets then found the range.
Setoguchi took a pass from Jokinen and snapped a shot that sailed between the legs of New York defenseman Michael Del Zotto and past Talbot.
Byfuglien then intercepted a pass by Derick Brassard and sent a stretch pass to Albert for a breakaway. Albert moved in on Talbot and wristed a rising drive that nestled into the top left corner at 10:00.
”Obviously, he didn’t make the same amount of saves that he had done in the past,” Vigneault said of Talbot, ”but we certainly made his life challenging by how we played in front of him.”
Albert, recalled by the Jets on Sunday, flashed a wide grin as he received a series of high-fives from teammates as he skated in front of the bench. The puck — it sat in his dressing room stall — will go to his parents who live outside of Cleveland.
”That was the greatest feeling I’ve ever experienced,” Albert said. ”Especially to score at a key moment of the game the way I did. And to score my first goal at Madison Square Garden was extra special.”
The Rangers got the jump on the Jets, grabbing a 1-0 lead just 2:49 in on Zuccarello’s fourth goal of the season.
New York was helped by a blatant turnover by defenseman Keaton Ellerby. The puck came right to defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who fired a slap shot from inside the blue line at the left point that was deflected in by Zuccarello.
NOTES: The Rangers fell to 12-3 when McDonagh has a point. . . . The Jets won two of three from the Rangers last season. . . . Setoguchi, Chris Thorburn and Trouba all had two points for Winnipeg. . . . Rangers LW Rick Nash had a three-game goal streak snapped.