Less than four weeks ago, the Winnipeg Jets were in the Eastern
Conference basement and the New York Rangers were within a win of
the top four. Now they’re tied for the eighth and final playoff
Consistency continues to elude the Rangers, who enter Thursday
night looking to recover from a poor effort and avoid a second loss
in as many meetings with a Jets team coming off possibly its best
A 4-0-1 run had New York tied for sixth place in the East and
two points back of fourth on Feb. 17. That night also saw Winnipeg
lose its third straight and seventh in nine games to drop into a
tie for last.
The Jets (13-11-2) have since turned things around, winning
eight of 12 and going 3-0-1 in their last four. The Rangers
(13-10-2), meanwhile, have had a four-game skid followed by a
four-game winning streak before losing two of their last three.
Each team enters Thursday with 28 points.
“We have to get it straightened out,” New York coach John
The fiery Tortorella was particularly angry following Tuesday’s
3-1 loss to a Buffalo team which had lost four straight and owns
one of the league’s worst records.
“I thought we stunk,” he said. “I couldn’t be more disgusted or
disappointed with how our top guys played.”
Though Derek Stepan scored for a second straight game, Rick Nash
had a 10-game point streak snapped and Marian Gaborik went
pointless. Gaborik, who had 41 goals last season and has eight in
2013, has scored one over the last 12 games.
Even Henrik Lundqvist had a bit of an off night, making 19
saves. New York fell to 2-7-0 when he allows more than two
“We need to figure it out here fast,” Lundqvist said.
His club is halfway through a four-game trip which could end in
ugly fashion if it loses Thursday because the finale comes against
division-leading Pittsburgh, which has won six straight versus New
York and six in a row overall.
“We just have to keep moving forward,” captain Ryan Callahan
said. “We have two more big ones on the road here.”
Callahan has a goal in three straight and seven of 10 versus
Winnipeg, but the Rangers had a four-game win streak in the series
snapped Feb. 26 as Olli Jokinen and Evander Kane each scored twice
in the Jets’ 4-3 victory at New York.
Though Jokinen has since gone pointless in seven contests, many
teammates had breakout games Tuesday in a 5-2 home win over Toronto
as the Jets matched a season high for goals and posted their most
Nik Antropov had a season-high three points, including his first
goal since Jan. 29. Dustin Byfuglien contributed three assists
after a 14-game stretch during which he had four points. Kyle
Wellwood notched his first multipoint effort after totaling three
points through his first 19 games.
Kane scored for the second straight game as he, Andrew Ladd and
Blake Wheeler continue to produce, but getting others going like
Antropov, Byfuglien and Wellwood – three of the team’s top seven
scorers last season – could be a major lift.
“I thought we had a lot of good games tonight from a lot of
players,” said coach Claude Noel, whose team has killed 25 straight
penalties. “I thought guys played hard and weren’t going to be
The Rangers remain without defenseman Marc Staal, who has missed
four games since getting hit in the eye with a puck.