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At the Rink: Jets at Rangers

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- It's not yet a concern or a reason to sound the alarm bell, but the Winnipeg Jets, one of the best first-period teams in the NHL last season, have struggled in the first period in two of their three games to start the season.

The Jets (2-1-0) are looking to stop it from becoming a trend Tuesday against the New York Rangers (3-0-0) at Madison Square Garden, the last stop of their four-game season-opening road trip.

"The New York Rangers scored first one more time than we did and it put us second in the League last year, so we have at least a one-year history of starting very, very well," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "Three games doesn't make a trend yet. We'll be better at the start tonight."

The Rangers scored first in a League-high 50 games last season. The Jets were tied for second with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders at 49.

However, Winnipeg has been outscored 2-0 in the first period this season, along with being outshot 34-24 and outattempted 59-46 in all situations. They are 2-1-0 because they have outscored the opposition 11-5 in the final two periods despite being even in shots on goal (62-62) and minus-16 in total shot attempts (107-91).

The Jets overcame their poor first period against the Boston Bruins in their season-opener by scoring six times on 26 shots in the final two periods to win 6-2. They were, however, trailing 1-0 after the first period, when they were outshot 14-6 and outattempted 24-12.

They couldn't overcome their bad start against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Monday, when they were shorthanded four times, were outshot 16-6, outattempted 29-14, and trailed 1-0 en route to a 4-2 loss.

"It stinks to lose, but the biggest thing is how we react to it," Jets center Mark Scheifele said. "We have to come out strong tonight, know we can play our game, and know what we did [Monday] against the Islanders isn't what we do."

The better version of the Jets was on display last Friday at Prudential Center, where they beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 after holding a 12-4 edge in shots and 18-8 lead in shot attempts in the first period. The Jets had the final 12 shot attempts and eight shots on goal in the first.

"I don't think we liked our games in Boston or [Monday in Brooklyn], just in general, whether it was first period or not," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "What made us such a tough team to play against last year was we were tight-checking and played a quick, simple game. We just need to get back to that. That's got to be our base and things happen from there."

Here are the projected lineups:


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Nikolaj Ehlers

Adam Lowry - Alexander Burmistrov - Drew Stafford

Chris Thorburn - Andrew Copp - Nicolas Petan

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back)

Scratched: Adam Pardy, Paul Postma, Anthony Peluso


Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Kevin Hayes

J.T. Miller - Oscar Lindberg - Viktor Stalberg

Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - Jarret Stoll

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle - Dylan McIlrath

Henrik Lundqvist

Antti Raanta

Injured: None

Scratched: Dan Boyle, Jesper Fast, Emerson Etem

Status report: The Rangers did not have a morning skate. Coach Alain Vigneault said after practice Monday that Lundqvist (3-0-0, 2.00 goals-against average, .943 save percentage) will make his fourth straight start. He also said McIlrath will make his season debut, replacing Boyle, and Glass will stay in the lineup after playing in the 5-2 win Saturday in place of Fast. … Hutchinson will start after Pavelec made 40 saves in the 4-2 loss to the Islanders on Monday. Hutchinson made 20 saves in the 3-1 win against the Devils last Friday. He will be facing the Rangers for the first time in his career. Maurice said he wasn't sure if he would make any other lineup changes.

Who's hot: Lindberg was named NHL Second Star of the Week (ending Oct. 11) for scoring four goals in the Rangers' first three games. He became the first Rangers rookie to score a goal in each of the first three games of a season. With Miller (four assists) and Stalberg (three assists), the Rangers' third line has been their most productive line so far, combining for 11 points. … Scheifele has scored a goal in each of the Jets' first three games. His linemate, Perreault, has two assists in each of the past two games. Wheeler has two goals and two assists, and at least one point in all three games.


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