By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden the Rangers staged several rallies, but were never able to overcome the leads built up by the Winnipeg Jets, and ended up dropping a 4-3 decision to open their four-game homestand. Olli Jokinen and Evander Kane each scored twice for the Jets, as the Rangers fell to 0-3-1 in their last four games.
Winnipeg closed out their five-game road trip with their fourth victory and moved a point ahead of the Rangers in the Eastern Conference standings.
Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, the Rangers engaged the Jets in a wild final period, with three goals being scored by the two teams in a span of 73 seconds. It was a stunning sequence which saw The Garden erupt to life, only to be quieted seconds later, then to see it explode once again less than a minute after that.
Taylor Pyatt scored his fourth goal of the season---and first in 14 games---at 9:17 to bring the Rangers within a goal of the visitors. After an outstanding cycle of the puck behind the Jets net by Pyatt, Ryan Callahan, and Derek Stepan, Anton Stralman fired a shot from inside the right point which Pyatt deflected past Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec to make the score 3-2. But on the following shift---just 20 seconds after Pyatt's score---Evander Kane ripped a right wing shot between Henrik Lundqvist's pads off the rush for his second goal of the night.
Trailing once again by two goals the Rangers cut their deficit in half when Stralman banged in a rebound at 10:30 of the final period. Brad Richards set the play in motion with a pretty feed to Gaborik who tipped the puck on net. Pavelec made the save, but left a big rebound for Stralman to finish for his third goral of the season---and second point of the night.
After a scoreless, and pretty much evenly-played, first period the Rangers and Jets combined to score three goals in a span of three minutes 33 seconds, and four in just under nine minutes, in the middle stanza. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, they scored only one of those goals and skated into the second intermission trailing y the score of 3-1.
It was Jokinen, the former Blueshirt, who bookended the scoring in the second period tallying his fourth goal at 5:55 and his fifth at 14:48. Both goals were scored from in front with the Rangers scrambling and unable to get the puck out of their own end of the ice.
After Kane assisted on Jokinen's game-opening score with a wraparound pass that slithered along the goal line and found Jokinen on the other side, he scored a goal of his own just 67 seconds later to give the Jets a 2-0 lead. One on one against Lundqvist, with no Rangers skater near him, Kane waited and then snapped a wicked shot from the right circle up and over Lundqvist's blocker and just under the crossbar for his eighth goal of the season.
The Rangers did cut their deficit in half at 9:28 when Callahan scored his fifth goal, and second in the past three games. After Stepan won an offensive zone faceoff, Steve Eminger fired a shot towards the net which was deflected right along the goal line by Callahan. The Rangers captain then quickly skated to the other sid eof the crease and banked his own rebound off of Zach Bogosian and into the net to bring The Garden crowd back to life.
Callahan kept the energy flowing in the building during a penalty kill moments later when he singlehandedly pinned the puck in the Jets end of the ice, before finally feeding a streaking Stepan on right wing. Stepan's one-timer was denied by Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, but had once again done more than his share in getting the Blueshirts going.
However the Jets took advantage of a Brandon Mashinter turnover and a failed clear by Stu Bickel to restore their two-goal advantage at 14:48, with Jokinen all alone to convert a rebound of Anthony Peluso's shot.