For the first time this season, the Winnipeg Jets carried a lead out of the first period and lost a hockey game.
Derek Stepan scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and Rangers captain Ryan Callahan not only scored a highlight-reel shorthanded goal, but also added three assists as the New York Rangers came from behind to beat the Jets 4-2 at Madison Square Garden. The Jets had been 8-0-0 when leading after the first period this season, the last team to be undefeated when leading after 20 minutes.
Of course, it sure doesn’t hurt that the Jets play in the worst division in the NHL. With the loss, their third straight, the Jets fell to 18-17-2 on the season, but they remained four points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals in the race for first in the Southeast Division. The Capitals, who have two games in hand, were idle last night while the Hurricanes, who have three games in hand, fell 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens last night.
The win moved the eighth-place Rangers to within two points of New Jersey for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers have a game in hand on the Devils.
Rick Nash also scored for the Rangers while Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves to get the win. Nik Antropov and Zach Bogosian scored for the Jets while Ondrej Pavelec made 31 saves in a losing effort. The Jets played most of the game with five defensemen when Grant Clitsome took a stick to the eye early in the first and didn’t return.
Amazingly, after going more than two full games without a goal, the Rangers scored just 19 seconds into Monday night’s game with the Jets. Stepan took a pass from Callahan and beat Pavelec low to the blocker side. Then Antropov scored 54 seconds later
The Jets took the lead with just a little more than seven minutes to play in the opening period as Bogo’s shot from the point deflected off New York’s Anton Stralman, rose quickly and fooled Lundqvist. Bogosian’s goal marked just the third time this season that the Jets have scored multiple goals in the first period of a game.
Winnipeg was playing well in the second period when they got the dreaded two-man advantage. The Jets have never scored on a two-man advantage this season and they were so bad on Monday night that at the end of the two-man advantage, Blake Wheeler made a bad pass, New York’s clearing pass went to Callahan who faked Jets D-man Tobi Enstrom out of his jock strap and then deked out Pavelec to backhand home the tying goal.
Winnipeg wasn’t the same team after that goal.