Preview: Rangers at Jets
The New York Rangers currently have a three-goaltender rotation, but rookie Igor Shesterkin continues to emerge entering Tuesday’s matchup at the Winnipeg Jets. Shesterkin stopped 42-of-43 shots in Sunday’s 4-1 home victory over Los Angeles, and with a 2.34 goals against average and a .933 save percentage while winning five of his first six NHL games, the 24-year-old's performance could reduce playing time for longtime netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
“The best guy is going to continue to play,” Rangers coach David Quinn told reporters postgame. “Keeping people sharp is no longer a high priority of ours. It’s going to be winning hockey games, and the guy who plays well is going to keep playing.” Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev is 12-11-1 with a .908 save percentage this season, while the 37-year-old Lundqvist played just twice in New York’s past 10 games and has not appeared since surrendering four goals on 15 shots in a loss to Dallas on Feb. 3. While the Rangers start the week nine points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, the Jets are 4-0-1 in their past five games to climb into seventh in the Western Conference entering Monday after downing Chicago 5-2 at home on Sunday. “We tried to play their game for a period, and then we got back to ours for the last 40 (minutes),” Winnipeg center Blake Wheeler told the media postgame after scoring the game-tying goal Sunday, as the Jets rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit.
TIME: 8 p.m. ET. TV: MSG, TSN3
ABOUT THE RANGERS (27-23-4): Center Artemi Panarin begins the week in the top 10 in the league in goals (28), assists (45) and points (73), and his goal Sunday gives him six (18 points) across his past 12 games. Center Mika Zibanejad has five goals in his past nine games and 30 points (15 goals) in his past 24 contests. Forward Kaapo Kakko, who turns 19 on Thursday, snapped a 13-game goal drought with a third-period tally for his third point in his past four games.
ABOUT THE JETS (29-23-5): Forward Kyle Connor scored two goals with an assist Sunday, one day after a four-point game against Ottawa, giving him 15 points (six goals) in his past 11 games. Forward Patrik Laine extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, following Saturday’s hat trick with an empty-net score Sunday. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 3-0-1 with a .942 save percentage since a three-game losing streak, after stopping 24-of-26 shots against Chicago.
1. Winnipeg has scored on four of its past 10 power-play opportunities, after producing one goal in its previous 25 attempts with the man advantage.
2. The Rangers - who open a three-game road trip at Winnipeg - have won their past two road contests after a four-game losing streak away from home.
3. Zibanejad finished with a four-point night (three assists) as the Rangers beat the Jets 6-4 in the season opener for both teams Oct. 3, and Wheeler scored twice for Winnipeg.
PREDICTION: Jets 3, Rangers 2