Rangers 4, Jets 2
NEW YORK -- Derek Stepan scored two goals and Ryan Callahan had a goal and two assists as the struggling New York Rangers picked up a big win, 4-2 over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Stepan scored the Rangers' first goal in three games just seconds into the first period, then notched a tie-breaking goal early in the third.
Callahan, who had defended coach John Tortorella from criticism by former Ranger Steve Avery via a statement this weekend, had Tortorella's back in a more tangible way, scoring a game-tying shorthanded goal in the second period. Rick Nash added a goal and an assist for New York.
Nik Antropov scored his fifth goal of the year and Zach Bogosian notched his third of the season for the Jets, who dropped their third straight game. Winnipeg also lost defenseman Grant Clitsome in the first period after he was struck under his visor by teammate Alexander Burmistrov's stick.
The Rangers (17-15-3) entered the night in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Islanders at 35 points apiece, and four points behind the seventh-place New Jersey Devils. The Islanders beat the Devils Monday, moving both New York teams within two points of New Jersey.
Winnipeg (18-17-2) entered the night atop the Southeast division with 38 points, and remained four points ahead of the second-place Carolina Hurricanes, pending Carolina's game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Henrik Lundqivst made 26 saves for the Rangers, helping neutralize several penalties for New York. Ondrej Pavelec had 31 stops for Winnipeg, which began a three-game road trip with the loss.
Stepan scored his second goal of the game and 12th of the season at 5:46 of the third period to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead. The center poked in a rebound from the side of the net off of Anton Stralman's slap shot.
Nash then all but locked up the win when he put in a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle at 13:07 for his 13th goal of the season.
Down 2-1 in the second period, the Rangers tied it on their captain's 10th goal of the year at 3:11. Shortly after the Rangers' second penalty of a penalty-filled second period, Callahan flipped in a backhand shot from close range, with assists to Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh.
Zuccarello was called for three of the Rangers' four penalties in the second period, but Lundqvist continued to fend off the Jets' shots, helping the penalty-killing unit escape unscathed as the teams headed for the third period.
After back-to-back shutout losses, the Rangers scored just 11 seconds into the game. Stepan gave them a 1-0 lead, with assists to Callahan and Nash.
But before the Rangers could spend too much time celebrating the end of their offensive drought, the Jets quickly responded with a goal to tie it.
Antropov drilled a one-timer off a pass from Kyle Wellwood less than a minute later, tying the game 1-1 at 1:15 of the first.
Winnipeg then took a 2-1 lead a little more than 10 minutes later when Bogosian's slap shot deflected off a Rangers defenseman and past Lundqvist at 12:54 of the first.
Notes: Jets center and former Ranger Olli Jokinen entered the game needing one goal to hit the 300-mark for his career. ... The Rangers signed defenseman Tommy Hughes, from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Hughes, 20, recorded 16 points, including one goal, for London. He also had a plus-17 rating and 66 penalty minutes in 67 games. ... Rangers center Darroll Powe, who had been a healthy scratch for the past three games, returned to the lineup. ... Callahan on Sunday addressed Avery's tweet calling for the Rangers to dump Tortorella as the Blueshirts continued to struggle with back-to-back shutout losses Thursday and Saturday. The former Ranger, who had run-ins with Tortorella in the past, tweeted after the Rangers' 3-0 loss to Montreal on Saturday, "FIRE this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS...." Callahan responded with a statement saying, "Sean Avery's comments solely represent his own thoughts and opinions. He did not speak for us as a team when he was here and certainly does not now."