The Winnipeg Jets welcomed Jacob Trouba back to Bell MTS Place with a video tribute, continuous boos and a lacklustre defensive effort, giving Trouba and his newfound New York Rangers teammates a 4-1 victory on the heels of yet another strong Igor Shesterkin performance.
“You can do that every night,” Jack Roslovic said postgame. “Obviously you get tired, but we get paid to do a job out there. We played eight really good games against really good opponents, really tough opponents. And we played them well. Tonight, like I said, it’s chalked up to a lot of missed opportunities from us.”
The first-year, 24-year-old backstop turned aside 42 shots for his sixth win in seven starts this season. Shesterkin did, however, leave the Rangers’ net briefly near the end of the first period, retreating to the visitors dressing room at Bell MTS Place, while veteran goaltender Henrik Lundqvist took over in the crease for 6:04, making just one stop.
The Jets (29-24-5) did outshoot the Rangers (28-23-4) in each of the game’s three periods, walking away with 44 pucks on net, as compared to New York’s 32, but the Rangers proved the old saying of ‘quality over quantity’. Winnipeg was on the receiving end of some bad luck, as many pucks found goalposts, broken sticks occurred at the most inopportune times, while Patrik Laine found the crossbar in memorable fashion, after walking past former teammate Jacob Trouba.
“Well, their guy was pretty good,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “Yeah, there were some that we missed on, broke some sticks, didn’t get a tip on. There’s some of that stuff. But their guy made some pretty good saves in tight. He was positionally, really, really square to pucks. He was good.”
The Rangers, who have now picked up victories in five of their past seven contests, collected two goals from Chris Kreider, including one with 35 seconds to play in the first period, before adding his second of the game midway through the second frame on a New York power play, while Gabriel Bourque looked skyward from the penalty box, following a hooking call on defenceman Brady Skjei.
Ryan Strome and Mika Zibanejad added two quick tallies in the third period, jumping the gun on an explosive opening minute-and-a-half, putting Winnipeg away early. Nikolaj Ehlers responded with the Jets’ only goal of the game only a few minutes after the Zibanejad strike, but it was nowhere near enough, as Winnipeg’s offence could not find another way to beat Shesterkin Tuesday.
“Yeah, it sucks,” Ehlers said when asked about giving up two-straight goals to begin the third period. “But that stuff happens. We had a plan before coming out for the third and we weren’t able to do that. You get two goals against and you keep going, the game isn’t over. I think the way we played in the third we worked our asses off, we got pucks deep and got some big chances.”
Connor Hellebuyck was also on the receiving end of some bad luck, giving up four goals for the first time since January 21 – a span of five games. After winning his past three games, the Jets’ top backstop will look to rebound Friday night as the San Jose Sharks roll into town for the fourth of six-straight home contests. Puck drop for Friday’s game is set for 6:00 PM central. The game can be viewed live on TSN.