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Little, Wheeler lead Winnipeg Jets to 5-2 win over N.Y. Rangers

NHL.com @NHL

WINNIPEG - Bryan Little scored two first-period goals and Blake Wheeler added four assists to help the Winnipeg Jets beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Friday night at the MTS Centre.

Little scored twice in a 2:31 span for his 11th and 12th goals of the season and a 2-0 lead.

His line ? with wingers Andrew Ladd and Wheeler ? combined for nine points after only recording four points as a line over the past four games.

Winnipeg (15-15-2) also got goals from blue liners Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers, as well as Ladd on the empty net.

J.T. Miller and Dan Boyle scored the Rangers (19-11-4).

Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck picked up his fifth win in seven starts, improving his record to 5-2-0 with a 25-save effort. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves and fell to 15-8-3 on the year with the loss.

Little opened the scoring 5:03 into the first period after corralling a Wheeler pass.

The duo hooked up again moments later as Little tapped in Wheeler's hard pass at the side of the net following the right winger's nifty work to find open space to set up the play.

The goal was initially waved off, but replays showed Little's shot hitting the camera just inside Lundqvist's net.

Miller cut Winnipeg's lead in half with his sixth of the season at 14:01. The Rangers forward was prone on the ice but still managed to get a stick on the puck, which had trickled in behind Hellebuyck following Kevin Hayes' initial shot.

The Jets would regain their two-goal cushion, this time off the faceoff late in the period. Mark Scheifele won the draw clean back to Byfuglien, who launched a one-timed rocket for his ninth of the year.

Winnipeg dominated much of the second period, but an unsportsmanlike penalty to Ladd in the second half of the frame allowed the Rangers back in the game.

Ryan McDonagh's point shot was saved by Hellebuyck, but the rebound found Boyle's stick and soon after the back of the net to cut Winnipeg's lead to 3-2 at 14:12.

Wheeler found Myers in space, and the big defenceman wired a snapshot off the crossbar and in for the 4-2 lead.

Notes: Chris Thorburn was given a standing ovation by the home crowd in the first period after breaking the franchise record for most games played. Thorburn, who was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2001, played in his 595th game for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, surpassing the old mark set by Ilya Kovalchuk.

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