By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Henrik Lundqvist left Winnipeg satisfied with how his team earned two points.
The Jets threw 38 shots at the veteran New York Rangers goalie and lost 3-1 on Sunday. Lundqvist kept New York hanging around long enough for Jimmy Vesey to score the go-ahead goal with 3:53 left in the third period.
“This win is so important in so many ways,” Lundqvist said. “To be able to go on the road and beat a really good team. The way we do it, stick with it, and in the end we come up with a couple big plays. That’s how you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Rangers defenceman Brady Skjei had fired a shot that hit a Jets player then went in off Vesey, who was returning to action after sitting out three games with a concussion. Michael Grabner added an empty-net goal with 43 seconds left.
Mats Zuccarello ended a 21-game goal-scoring drought in the first period with his ninth of the season for the Rangers.
Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves for Winnipeg (32-15-9), which lost consecutive games at home for the first time this season.
Lundqvist also picked up the win when he replaced an injured Ondrej Pavelec in a 4-3 home victory against Calgary Friday.
“Of course he’s a great goalie,” said Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who scored his team’s lone goal. “He made some pretty cool saves today and definitely made a difference. I still think we had a lot of chances, but some days they go in and some days they don’t.”
The Rangers (27-24-5) were starting a four-game road trip and are 2-4-0 in their past six games.
Winnipeg appeared to make it 2-2 with 1:22 remaining when Dustin Byfuglien’s point shot was deflected in by Mark Scheifele, but the goal was called off because of a high stick.
Lundqvist didn’t doubt it was the right call.
“Not really, because I was so high with my glove to catch that puck,” he said. “He deflected it and it went down and just under the crossbar so I was pretty sure, but you never know.”
Ehlers scored his 21st goal of the season for the Jets, who are 3-2-1 in their 10-game homestand.
Winnipeg had a Tyler Myers’ goal 24 seconds into the first period disallowed because of a New York challenge for offside. But 42 seconds later Ehlers ripped a one-timer past Lundqvist’s glove side to make it 1-0.
With 1:06 left in the period, an Ehlers pass attempt was intercepted by Zuccarello and he broke in alone on Hellebuyck. The puck hit Hellebuyck, dropped to the ice and trickled in under the goalie’s pads.
“It was a stupid pass from me trying to make it into the middle there,” Ehlers said.
Winnipeg outshot the Rangers 11-6 in the first but the tables turned in the second as New York had the 24-21 shot advantage.
“This was a real good team win, like last game,” Zuccarello said. “Blocking shots, everyone playing really well. (Lundqvist) was real good for us.”
The scoreless second featured three power plays for New York and one for the Jets.
Winnipeg had two early power plays in the third and Lundqvist was kept busy, making saves on Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine. The Rangers also got a power play and Zuccarello had a shot stopped and hit the post.
Both teams finished 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
“We had our chances,” said Jets winger Mathieu Perreault, who was on the top line with Scheifele and Wheeler. ” We’ve been good at home (in) tie games going into the third, so we won’t let that affect our confidence at all. It’s just a bad bounce and we’ll put it behind us.”
Veteran centre Matt Hendricks was back in action for Winnipeg after missing two games with a concussion and got into a fight with forward Cody McLeod.
Winnipeg hosts Washington on Tuesday, while the Rangers play in Minnesota the same day.