RANGERS (13-10-2) at JETS (13-11-2)
TV: MSG PLUS, TSN-JETS
Last 10: New York 5-4-1; Winnipeg 6-3-1
Season series: This is the second of three meetings. The Jets won 4-3 at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 26. However, the Rangers played that game without Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto,
Big story: It’s getting late fast with the shortened season, and both of these teams are jockeying for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers and Jets each have 28 points, although the Rangers have played one fewer game and hold the eighth spot. A regulation win could be big for the Jets, for it would give them a 14-11 edge in that category, which is the first tiebreaker at season’s end.
Rangers: Expectations are high in New York, which might explain coach John Tortorella’s reaction his team’s 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, his team's second in its past seven games.
The Rangers outshot Buffalo 33-22, but took five minor penalties and spent most of the second period shorthanded. Instead of chalking up the loss to one team playing better than the other in a battle of two closely matched squads, Tortorella decided to shred his team afterward.
"I thought we stunk," Tortorella said. "I couldn't be more disgusted or disappointed with how our top guys played. That team was ripe to be beat and we simply didn't play the way we were supposed to play."
That "ripe to be beat" team nearly beat the Rangers nine days earlier at MSG, holding a 1-0 lead in the third period before Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta took a game-changing, five-minute penalty for checking Brad Richards from behind. Still, the Rangers needed a shootout to beat a team that was missing leading scorer Thomas Vanek.
Jets: That win against the Rangers may have come against a banged-up club, but it was the start of a long stretch of great play from the Jets. They are 6-2-1 in their past nine and 3-0-1 in their past four, including a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
The Jets have climbed the standings of late by beating teams ahead of them. In their past six games against teams currently in the top eight, the Jets are 5-0-1.
"That's exactly the way we have to play," goaltender Ondrej Pavelec said after beating Toronto. "Everybody is talking about it right now, that we are not that strong at home (5-6-0 this season). But we've been good on the road. Now we have to start winning at home. We have to give the fans a reason to cheer for something."
Injury report: Rangers forward Arron Asham, who has missed 10 straight games, skated at practice Wednesday. Defenseman Marc Staal (eye) is out indefinitely. … Jets defensemen Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and Zach Redmond (leg) and forward Anthony Peluso (hand) are on injured reserve.
|M. Del Zotto||24||2||8||10||+3||12||0||0|