Jets' playoff hopes crash with loss to Rangers
The Winnipeg Jets (35-34-8) faced the New York Rangers (49-21-7) in a desperate bid to accumulate as many points as possible in the six remaining games of their season, but the home team fell short 4-2.
Going into Wednesday night's game, the Jets sat in 10th place in the East — eight points behind the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the final playoff spot.
The Rangers skated onto the ice at the MTS Centre in top spot in the Eastern Division, with a three-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Jets, having lost two games in a row at home, were looking to make the best of their second-last opportunity to play in front of the fans at the MTS Centre this year.
The two teams appeared evenly matched in the opening minutes of the first period, with the fan-favourite fourth line of Tim Stapleton, Ben Maxwell, and Spencer Machacek creating the most exciting chances for the Jets.
The Rangers' Stu Bickel and Ryan McDonagh took minor penalties 17 seconds apart at the midway mark of the period, giving the Jets a long two-man advantage.
However, the Jets were unable to convert, with the Rangers looking sharp on the penalty kill. Another minor to defenceman Anton Stralman for delay of game saw the Jets' power play chances scuttled once again by the Rangers.
The scoreless period ended with the Jets outshooting the Rangers 11-4.
The Jets got a jump on the Rangers in the opening minutes of the second frame, scoring back-to-back goals 56 seconds apart.
Machacek scored his second of the year from Maxwell and Mark Stuart, when he fired the puck through the legs of Lundqvist.
Bryan Little followed with his 23rd of the year, from Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd.
The Rangers answered with their first of the game — a short-handed effort with Brandon Dubinsky serving a slashing minor. Michael Del Zotto got one past Ondrej Pavelec from Ryan Callahan at the 7:44 mark. The goal seemed to provide the Rangers with some much needed energy.
A holding penalty to Alexander Burmistrov with two minutes left in the period led to the Rangers' tying goal 23 seconds later.
Callahan notched his second point of the game, scoring from Marian Gaborik and Del Zotto.
Jets draw penalties
Captain Andrew Ladd drew a four minute high-sticking penalty with 1:08 remaining when center Brian Boyle was struck in the mouth.
It appeared that Boyle was struck with his own stick — knocking out a front tooth — but Ladd was sent to the penalty box anyway.
The period ended with the Rangers outshooting the Jets 15-8, tying the total shots at 19.
The Rangers took the lead for the first time at the 3:07 mark of the third period when Boyle scored his ninth of the season from Ruslan Fedotenko and McDonagh, making the score 3-2.
The Rangers then increased their lead to two when centre Derek Stepan notched his 17th, a power-play goal, with Burmistrov in the penalty box for holding.
The Jets couldn't muster many chances in the remaining minutes of the third period, meaning they have dropped their third home game in a row and all but eliminated their slim playoff hopes.