Rangers-Jets Preview


A struggling offense has the New York Rangers in danger of going winless on a three-game road trip.

Facing the sliding Winnipeg Jets could help.

The Rangers look to avoid their second three-game skid this month and send the Jets to their longest losing streak in four years Friday night.

New York (35-28-4) dropped to 2-4-1 in its last seven games with Thursday's 2-1 loss at Minnesota. That came two days after they opened this jaunt with a 3-1 defeat to Carolina.

"I don't think it was so much them, I think we're more worried about ourselves," left wing Rick Nash said after his team outshot the Wild 16-8 in the third period. "We have to establish more offense, more shots. It's just not going our way right now. We've got to work through this."

The Rangers are 4-5-1 in their past 10 games, totaling 22 goals during that span. That lack of offense has left them tied with Columbus for second in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of Philadelphia and three in front of New Jersey.

"Games are not getting easier, they're tighter and tighter," defenseman Marc Staal told the team's official website. "Everyone is vying to get in the playoffs. We need to get back on the winning track."

Production from Nash would certainly be welcome.

Although he leads the team with 20 goals, Nash has scored only twice in 13 contests after finding the net seven times during a five-game goal-scoring streak.

Martin St. Louis is still looking for his first goal with the Rangers, managing one assist in five games since coming over in a trade with Tampa Bay. He has three goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak against Winnipeg.

The Jets (30-28-9) are dealing with problems of their own, allowing 17 goals during a five-game losing streak. They haven't dropped six straight since March 6-14, 2013, as the Atlanta Thrashers.

A 3-2 shootout loss to Vancouver on Wednesday was Winnipeg's fourth in a row at home.

The Jets are five points back of Dallas for the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference.

"Try not to look back here, just looking forward," defenseman Mark Stuart said. "There's just not enough time in the season. This time of year, and how tight it is, there's not a whole lot of time to look back. If we're concentrating on the last five times today, then we're putting ourselves behind the 8-ball."

It's been nine game since Winnipeg scored more than three goals and some of that lack of production can be traced to Blake Wheeler. The team leader with 23 goals, Wheeler has one in 12 games and none in the last six.

He scored in the Jets' 5-2 victory at New York on Dec. 2, while Olli Jokinen had two goals and an assist on Devin Setoguchi's tally.

Jokinen, a member of the Rangers in 2010, has four goals and three assists over his past four meetings with his former team.

New York is expected to start Henrik Lundqvist in net after backup Cam Talbot made 24 saves Thursday.

Lundqvist is 2-3-1 with a 3.02 goals-against average since helping Sweden to the silver medal at the Olympics. He was 10-2-0 with a 1.58 GAA prior to the break.

He's stopped 52 of 56 shots while splitting two visits to Winnipeg.

Derek Stepan is looking to continue his surge after scoring Thursday. The center has two goals and eight assists in eight games, matching his point total from the 18 prior.

He has seven points in eight games versus the Jets, but was held without one in December.