WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets took advantage of a New York Rangers team that was playing their second game in as many nights. The Jets struck for three – first period goals on their way to a 5-2 victory on Friday at MTS Centre.
“We jumped on them early.” Blake Wheeler said. “We knew they were coming off a back to back and you know how it is. Sometimes it’s tough to get it going in under 24 hours so you just want to jump on them early, don’t give them anything to hang their hat off after one period. Just kinda make the game tough and we were able to capitalize on a couple good looks.”
Bryan Little scored twice for the Jets while Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Andrew Ladd also scored goals for Winnipeg. Wheeler finished the night with four assists and it was a three point night for Little who also had one helper.
“I think that’s the most time we’ve spent in the other team’s end in a while.” Little said. “I mean it’s a lot easier playing the game that way.”
J.T. Miller and Dan Boyle scored the Rangers goals. Boyle’s second period goal appeared to give the Rangers the momentum back but Myers quickly snuffed it out with his third goal of the season.
“We kept pushing even though they got a little momentum with that one.” Myers said. “We did a good job of just playing the same way all the way through.”
Jets captain Andrew Ladd took a pair of minor penalties and was demoted to the third line for a good portion of the third period.
“Just some housekeeping.” head coach Paul Maurice said. “That’s the word I used and I’m sticking to it too. That’s all you’re getting.”
“It’s something that’s between me and the coach.” Ladd said. “I’m sure he wasn’t happy with that penalty and that’s what happens.”
The Jets outshot the Rangers 36-28 as Connor Hellebuyck made 26 stops to help the Jets put the brakes on a two game losing streak.
Winnipeg jumped out to the early lead at the 5:03 mark. Wheeler from behind the net spotted Little in the slot and he danced around Lundqvist for his 11th goal of the season.
Just a few minutes later Wheeler found Little again. This time at the side of the net and Little re-directed it in. Play continued briefly but upon inspecting the replay the puck clearly went it in. Little’s second goal of the game was also assisted by Ladd and the Jets went ahead by two.
With 5:59 left to play in the opening period Hellebuyck juggled the long shot from Kevin Hayes and a falling Miller was able to just shove the loose puck across the goal line. His sixth goal of the year cut the lead in half.
But the Jets quickly restored the two goal lead. Mark Scheifele won the draw clean, pulling it back to Byfuglien and he hammered home a blueline blast. Byfuglien’s ninth goal of the season had the Jets up 3-1 after one period. The Jets led in shots 13-9.
In the second period the Rangers pulled to within one on the powerplay. The point shot deflected right to Dan Boyle and he buried the shot behind Hellebuyck to make it 3-2.
The Jets almost immediately restored the two goal lead though. Wheeler once again provided the setup and this time Myers fired it in.
The only goal in the third period was Ladd’s empty netter that sealed the 5-2 win.
Chris Thorburn appeared in his 595th game with the franchise to break the team record for most games played that was previously held by Ilya Kovalchuk.
Joel Armia made his Jets debut while Matt Halischuk appeared in his first game of the season after Thursday’s call ups from the Manitoba Moose. Armia played 10:54 with one shot and two hits. Halischuk saw the ice for 9:46 and recorded three shots and two hits.
Adam Pardy, Paul Postma and Anthony Peluso were all scratched.
The Jets get a weekend off with their next game not until Monday against the Edmonton Oilers.
WATCH: The Winnipeg Jets react following a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers