WINNIPEG - The induction ceremony for Randy Carlyle and Thomas Steen into the Winnipeg Jets Hall of Fame provided the early spark for the Jets, but they couldn't turn that spark into fire, as New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin snuffed out nearly all the offence the Jets could muster.
At the end of the night, the Rangers left the building with a 4-1 win over the Jets, snapping Winnipeg's win streak at three and point streak at five.
"There are some that we missed on, broke some sticks, or didn't get a tip. Their guy made some really good saves in tight. He was positionally really square to pucks. He was good," said head coach Paul Maurice.
"They played well. They played fast. They knocked an awful lot down right to their first goal. Just stopping that puck in the offensive zone to get it going forward. They had good sticks and good speed."
Video: POSTGAME | Paul Maurice
Nikolaj Ehlers scored his 20th of the season in the loss, giving the Danish winger four consecutive 20-goal seasons dating back to 2016-17.
The Jets (29-24-5) sent 44 shots toward the Rangers net, including 19 in the final 20 minutes.
"Our shots were in areas that we have guys that can put it in, but there weren't a whole lot of second chance opportunities," said Blake Wheeler, who had four shots on goal. "There weren't ones where we're banging in rebounds. They had a couple rebounders off the top of my head. This time of year, that's how you score."
The game's opening goal came with 34 seconds left in the first period, when Chris Kreider took the puck in the neutral zone along the right wing, then drove to the front of the net around Jets defenceman Sami Niku. Kreider stopped up and moved to his backhand, sliding his 21st of the season past Connor Hellebuyck's extended left leg.
Kreider's second of the night came in the second period with the New York power play - the best in the NHL since the calendar flipped to 2020 - going to work. Hellebuyck made the initial pad save on Ryan Strome's shot from the bottom of the right circle, but Kreider was right there to bang in the rebound to make it 2-0 Rangers.
"The PK goal obviously puts us in trouble. I don't think you're necessarily in trouble at 1-0, it's an even game in a lot of ways," said Maurice. "You get some chances, they're getting theirs. It felt like two because of how hard you had to work for your offence. Obviously the start of the third was a challenge."
Video: POSTGAME | Nikolaj Ehlers
Ryan Strome and Mike Zibanejad each scored in the first 1:28 of the third period to double that lead. Strome's 13th came off a turnaround wrist shot from the slot 53 seconds into the final frame, while Zibanejad buried a centering pass from Pavel Buchnevich 35 seconds later to extend the New York lead to 4-0.
"It sucks, but that stuff happens. We had a plan before coming out of the third and we weren't able to do that," said Ehlers. "You get two goals against and you keep going. The game isn't over. I think the way we played in the third… we got pucks deep, worked them, and had some big chances."
Ehlers lit the lamp just after Winnipeg's third power play of the night expired. His wrist shot from the right circle deflected off a stick and beat Shesterkin with 15:25 to go in the third, giving him 110 in his career. That moved him past Evander Kane on the franchise list, putting Ehlers ninth on that list.
Video: POSTGAME | Blake Wheeler
That was the only puck to beat Shesterkin though, giving the Rangers goaltender six wins in seven appearances this season.
Now with their first blemish on the home stand, the Jets look to get back on track Friday night against the San Jose Sharks.
"The last eight to ten games our team has competed our asses off," said Wheeler. "Tonight was an off night."