November 6, 2011
Rangers down Jets 3-0
By Ken Wiebe, QMI Agency
NEW YORK - This was the night when a grueling trip finally took its toll on the Winnipeg Jets.
That’s not an excuse, but it’s surely one of the reasons the Jets fell 3-0 to the New York Rangers on Sunday night before a crowd of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden — spoiling a sensational effort from goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who finished with 24 saves.
“I thought we looked tired, we didn’t have much energy,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel, whose squad fell to 5-7-2 on the season and is 3-2-1 on this season-long seven-game road trip. “With the size of our team, we were worn down from back-to-back games.”
Rangers backup Martin Biron made 23 saves to record his first shutout of the season and second victory in as many starts against the Jets.
“We didn’t play with the puck the way we wanted to,” said Jets defenceman Mark Stuart. “We turned over a lot of pucks at the offensive blue line. And as defencemen, we weren’t getting the puck up quick enough. We had a few chances, but a lot of our shots were from the perimeter.
“We did get around the net a few times there and I thought we might punch (one) in, but it just wasn’t happening.”
On the Rangers second goal, Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien got caught up ice and out of position, leaving Marian Gaborik to convert a 2-on-1 with linemate Derek Stepan at 8:31 of the third period for a valuable insurance marker.
Adding to the frustration was that the goal came minutes after the Jets successfully killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 disadvantage that stretched over three minor penalties and a total of one minute and 33 seconds.
“That was the momentum shifter that really hurt us,” said Noel. “We didn’t have to pinch there. It went off (Byfuglien’s) shin pad and went right to their guy. We still had some time in the game there. If you keep it 1-0, you’re still okay and you’re in the game, you’re okay there.
“We would have generated some life off that penalty kill and we would have had some energy.”
Instead, a costly mistake ended up in the back of their net and the Jets were unable to author another comeback story.
Byfuglien finished the night minus-2, though the second minus came on an empty-netter by Gaborik with 1.1 seconds left in regulation.
Stepan had the other goal for the Rangers, a power-play marker at 10:01 of the second period.
Given the nature of his style of play, Byfuglien is going to be out of position once in a while but it can’t become routine, especially since his high-risk game has yielded limited offensive rewards to this point of the season (one goal and six points in 14 games).
Byfuglien did generate a few good chances in this one — on the best one he snuck in from the point but his shot sailed wide — but his frustration is evident.
It’s obvious Byfuglien takes pride in his game and wants to play better but things aren’t going his way right now.
When the puck isn’t going in, it’s important for Byfuglien to focus on playing better in his own zone.
Once that occurs, you’d have to think that the offensive part of his game will eventually come around.
New York Rangers (7-3-3) vs. Winnipeg Jets (5-7-2)
3 - 0
Excellent goaltending was provided by Ondrej Pavelec, but the Jets offence was nowhere to be found on this night as the Jets slipped to 3-2-1 on this seven-game road trip.
Nobody is questioning the effort, but too many of the Jets forwards are in an offensive funk and that puts a lot of pressure on goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
Playing with seven defence for the first time this season, the Jets did a decent job taking care of their own end. Mark Stuart gets bonus points for playing through an injury. However, Dustin Byfuglien got caught up ice again on the Rangers’ second goal and needs to play better.
Ondrej Paveleec made his sixth consecutive start and was outstanding again. He’s found his form and showing no sign of being overworked here. He had little-to-no chance on either of the goals he surrendered, a perfect shot by Derek Stepan and a rocket one-timer from Marian Gaborik.
The Jets wrap up this season-long seven-game swing on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. (TSN Jets, TSN 1290) against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena