By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
The haggard New York Rangers finally wrapped their season-kickoff seven-game road trip Monday night with a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre.
Two power-play goals were the difference as New York went 2-for-5 with the man advantage — a vast improvement from their 0-for-23 start coming into Winnipeg.
After starting the regular season with a pair of games in Sweden, traveling through Long Island, and finally across western Canada, the 3-2-2 Blueshirts will head home for a six-game stand to even out their lopsided schedule.
Watch post-game reaction:
“We’re looking forward to going home,” said head coach John Tortorella. “We score a couple. We’re ugly as hell. Our goaltending gives us an opportunity right on through here.”
“We still have a lot of work to do to play the right way.”
The Rangers indeed were ugly, as Winnipeg piled up the shots on New York backup Martin Biron in his first start of the season. The Jets outshot their opponents 28-17 through 60 minutes.
“I felt comfortable,” said Biron. “A couple of times I had to retreat closer to the goal line… Right from the beginning, a couple of shots in the first that I was able to feel — the first was a flutter through the screen that I was able to snag last second, but that gave me a lot of confidence moving forward.”
After a scoreless first, New York struck 5:51 into the second as Ruslan Fedotenko beat Chris Mason stickside with a high-slot redirection on the power play.
Winnipeg’s Nik Antropov responded with his second of the year at 14:29, sniping one from the circle to tie thing up 1-1 heading into the third. Line mate Alex Burmistrov grabbed an assist, contributing to his team-high seven points.
The momentum rolled with the Jets and the raucous sold-out crowd as Zach Bogosian rung the iron 45-minutes in as Winnipeg led the Rangers 21-11 in shots early in the third.
Just under four-minutes later, the New York power play found the net again as Rangers captain Ryan Callahan attempted a cross-slot pass that deflected off Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian’s skate and under Mason.
“We’ve given up this year probably five goals off our defencemen,” said Jets bench boss Claude Noel. “We have to manage that.”
Another thing Winnipeg needs to manage moving forward is their love for the sin-bin. Beside coincidental five-minute majors to Tanner Glass and New York’s Brandon Prust following their first-period scrap, the Jets committed five minors Monday after accumulating a ridiculous 11+ minutes of penalty-kill time on seven infractions on Saturday against the Hurricanes.
Winnipeg (2-5-1) will now pack their bags for their own seven-game roader — a 13-day jaunt through the states of Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, and New Jersey.
* Martin Biron
** Ruslan Fedotenko
*** Nik Antropov
ChrisD.ca video/Darrin Bauming