Add the Winnipeg Jets to the list of teams that haven’t been able to solve the New York Rangers goaltending of late.
Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for his sixth shutout of the season in the Rangers 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
The leading Vezina candidate now has back-to-back shutout wins, while New York extended its team shutout streak to three games, totalling more than 180 minutes.
It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of scoring opportunities as the Jets had numerous quality chances in a back-and-forth second period, but were turned away by Shesterkin every time.
“We just got to figure out a way to create more offence,” said Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. “I think that’s what’s frustrating, is there’s some nights where it just feels like we’re playing catch-up. Even if it’s a close game, I think with the talent we have, we can do a much better job of forcing teams to play our way, and not us feeling like we’re trying to catch up to their pace and catch up to their puck movement.
“I think we can do a better job of being a step ahead in a lot of those categories, especially with the talent we have.”
Ryan Strome scored a pair for the Rangers, including the empty-netter to seal the win.
It was the first time the Jets faced former teammate Andrew Copp since his trade to the Rangers after seven seasons in Winnipeg. Copp recorded two assists with two shots on goal against his ex-team.
Copp, who was traded to New York at the trade deadline for Morgan Barron and two conditional second-round draft picks and a fifth round pick in 2023, now has 15 points in 14 games with the Rangers.
Nikolaj Ehlers had his nine-game point streak come to an end in the Jets third straight defeat.
The Jets were outshot 34-31.
“I thought tonight we played a real solid game and deserved a better fate,” said interim head coach Dave Lowry. “The unfortunate thing is we didn’t score tonight. I thought we generated more than enough chances. We had a lot of real good looks. And like I said, the unfortunate thing is we didn’t score.”
Connor Hellebuyck took the warmup, but didn’t play as he was feeling under the weather.
“He has a non-COVID related illness,” said Lowry.
Mikhail Berdin was called up from the Manitoba Moose on an emergency basis to backup Eric Comrie. Comrie played well, and was only beaten twice, but still lost the goaltending battle to Shesterkin.
“I think he finished on top tonight,” Comrie said. “And myself – it’s just, I know you always worry about the competition across from you. But I’m not worried about that so much. I’m just trying to play the game, play my game, and just hopefully the results go my way. I’m just going to battle as hard as I can out there.”
It was Comrie’s first start in nearly three weeks, but he’s appeared in three straight games now after Hellebuyck was pulled in both their last two outings.
“I thought Eric played outstanding,” said Lowry. “He made a lot of saves. There wasn’t a whole lot of second and third chances.”
The Jets are 2-6-2 since March 31st and remain 10 points back of a playoff spot. Winnipeg will officially be eliminated with one more loss or if the Dallas Stars pick up one more point.
Neither team was able to create much offence in the first period with the shots favouring New York 9-6.
It took a power play goal for the Rangers to open the scoring at 15:57 of the second period on a beautiful passing play.
Panarin, who earned his 69th and 70th assists of the season Tuesday, found a streaking Mika Zibanejad. He centred for Strome at the top of the crease for his 18th goal of the campaign.
Defenceman Adam Fox made it 2-0 off a wrist shot from just inside the blue-line at 11:47 of the third frame.
Strome’s second goal of the night came on an empty net with 33 seconds remaining to make it 3-0.
Josh Morrissey led all Jets skaters with 24:30 of ice-time.
The Jets conclude their road trip Thursday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes.
Pre-game coverage with Kelly Moore and company will begin at 4 p.m. on 680 CJOB with puck drop shortly after 6 p.m.
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