Michael Hutchinson
Rangers-Jets Preview
Michael Hutchinson

Rangers-Jets Preview

Published Dec. 18, 2015 2:07 a.m. ET

Having fallen on tough times after a fantastic start, the New York Rangers have to find a way to contain the opposition away from Madison Square Garden.

That challenge might fall even more on Henrik Lundqvist after backup goalie Antti Raanta went down with an injury for what could be a lengthy amount of time.

The Rangers look to tighten things up Friday night and end their longest road losing streak in seven years with a fifth win in the last six visits to Winnipeg.

Since allowing 1.76 goals per game during a 16-3-2 start, New York (19-10-4) has won just three times - all at the Garden - over its last 12. The club has struggled defensively on the road, allowing at least five goals in the last three away games and 24 while going 0-4-2 in its past six.


It's the Rangers' longest road skid since an 0-7-2 stretch Jan. 18-Feb. 25, 2009.

Making matters worse, they may have lost Raanta for an extended period after he took a shot off the mask 11:49 into Thursday's 5-2 loss at Minnesota. In his first relief appearance since Oct. 12, 2013, Lundqvist allowed four goals on 31 shots.

The former Vezina Trophy winner hasn't been able to stop the recent woes, allowing nine goals on 64 shots in his last two on the road. He's played much better against the Jets, going 5-3-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average in his last nine meetings.

"I didn't face so much in the first, so that was good," Lundqvist said. "But it's awfully tough to come in like that. In the first, after that, I think you're in it. I played good in the second, but in the third I just need to be better."

Winnipeg is focused on improving its special teams after going 0 for 2 on the power play and letting St. Louis convert 2 of 3 in Tuesday's 4-3 home loss. The squad ranks near the bottom of the league in power-play (15.2) and penalty-kill (77.3) percentage.

"There's some things to improve on for sure," Winnipeg defenseman Tyler Myers told the team's official website. "Definitely want to come in urgent (Friday), but we need to have a lot of urgency going forward with all our games."

The Rangers sit in the top 10 in both special teams categories, but only have two power-play goals in the last five road games and have given up nine in the last seven.

Jets center Mark Scheifele, who got his team-high 12th goal against the Blues, is having a big December with four goals and four assists in six games.

Mats Zuccarello leads New York with 14 goals and is second with three on the power play. He had scored in three straight before coming up empty Tuesday. He's scored in the last two meetings with Winnipeg, including the lone tally in a 4-1 home loss Oct. 13.

The Rangers are 4-1 at Winnipeg since the franchise moved from Atlanta in 2011-12.

Bryan Little led the Jets (14-15-2) with two goals in the October victory at MSG, while goalie Michael Hutchinson came up big with 40 saves. Hutchinson, however, has scuffled more recently, posting a 3.98 GAA while going 0-7-1 over his last eight starts.

Rookie Connor Hellebuyck could be in net again. He's given up 10 goals while dropping two of his last three starts after allowing three during a 3-0-0 start.

The Jets are looking to avoid their first back-to-back home losses since Oct. 18-23.


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