By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Chris Kreider keeps seeing improvement with the New York Rangers, and he was a big contributor to their success on Tuesday night.
Kreider scored the game’s first two goals as the Rangers halted the Winnipeg Jets’ three-game win streak with a 4-1 victory.
“It’s unbelievable to see how much everyone’s progressing, how much everyone’s improving, so that’s something we’ve focused on and that’s something we’ve got to continue to focus on,” said Kreider, who has 10 goals and four assists in his past 13 games.
Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad each had a goal and assist for the Rangers (28-23-4), who were starting a three-game road trip and are 5-2-0 in their past seven games.
Nikolaj Ehlers had Winnipeg’s lone goal. The loss also ended the Jets’ five-game point streak (4-0-1).
“We didn’t have the energy that we had in the first period, in the second and third. Just wasn’t there,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said.
Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves for Winnipeg (29-24-5), which was playing the third game (2-1-0) of a season-long six-game homestand.
Rookie Igor Shesterkin stopped 42 shots for New York. He started the game, left with six minutes remaining in the first, but returned for the start of the second and stayed in. Henrik Lundqvist made one save in his brief appearance.
At 8:12 of the first, Shesterkin was crashed into by Andrew Copp after the Jets forward was pushed by Rangers defenceman Tony DeAngelo. The 24-year-old goalie looked shaken up and DeAngelo was penalized for interference.
Shesterkin now has a 6-1 record in his first NHL season.
“From where I sit, it doesn’t matter what league he’s in, it doesn’t matter what building he’s in, it doesn’t matter about anything, he just has a net behind him and he’s going to keep the puck out of it, which is a simple approach and it works,” Rangers coach David Quinn said of the Russian netminder.
Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice also tipped his hat to Shesterkin.
“There were some (chances) that we missed on, broke some sticks, didn’t get a tip on. There’s some of that stuff,” Maurice said. “But their guy made some pretty good saves in tight. He was positionally really, really square to pucks. He was good.”
The Rangers led 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 after two.
Kreider scored his 21st goal of the season with 35 seconds remaining in the first period after he went in alone on Hellebuyck, deked and put the puck over the goalie’s out-stretched left leg.
Rangers defenceman Jacob Trouba, who played six seasons with the Jets before being traded last June for Neal Pionk, got a video tribute and cheers from fans at Bell MTS Place during the first. Earlier in the period, some fans booed him every time he touched the puck.
“It’s definitely fun,” Trouba said. “Yet, we wanted to win the game and it’s nice that we won the game, but I was going to remember it either way.”
Kreider’s second goal was on the power play, a shot off a rebound that went in at 7:30 of the second.
The Rangers made it 4-0 by the 1:28 mark of the third period. Strome scored 53 seconds into the frame and Zibanejad followed up 35 seconds later with his 23rd of the season.
“Yeah, it sucks,” Ehlers said of New York’s quick pair of goals. “But that stuff happens. We had a plan before coming out for the third and we weren’t able to do that. You get two goals against and you keep going, the game isn’t over.”
Ehlers scored at 4:35 with a shot that went off the skate of Rangers defenceman Ryan Lindgren. The goal was Ehlers’s 110th with the Jets, moving him past Evander Kane for ninth most goals in franchise history.
Winnipeg was 0 for 4 on the power play and New York 1 for 1.
The Jets host the San Jose Sharks on Friday. The Rangers play in Minnesota on Thursday.
Notes: In a pre-game ceremony, the Jets inducted Randy Carlyle and Thomas Steen into the team’s Hall of Fame. Carlyle, a native of Sudbury, Ont., was a Norris Trophy-winning defenceman who tallied 306 points in 564 games for the Jets from 1984-93. Steen, a Swedish forward, collected 817 points in 950 regular-season games from 1981-95.