Hayes’ late power-play goal lifts Rangers past Jets, 2-1
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Kevin Hayes was at the right place at the right time.
Hayes scored a power-play goal with 1:09 left in the third period to lift the New York Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Jets forward Drew Stafford was in the penalty box for high-sticking when Ryan McDonagh’s shot through traffic deflected off Winnipeg forward Adam Lowry’s stick to Hayes, who capitalized for his 11th of the season.
“I think it was a greasy goal, a point shot off about three guys,” Hayes said. ”(I) just tipped it in. That was definitely puck luck, for sure.”
Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson admitted he lost sight of the puck with the players in front blocking his view.
“I saw McDonagh go to shoot in the slot and as soon as he went to release it, a bunch of traffic came into my eyesight,” Hutchinson said. “As a goalie, you wait that fraction of a second where the puck should hit you or the boards. I didn’t hear anything, then my peripheral vision caught the puck to my right. I tried to push over, but I just couldn’t get there.”
Stafford’s infraction on Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi with 2:56 left in the third had fans at MTS Centre booing.
Jets coach Paul Maurice was asked if Girardi did a “sell job.”
“I can’t tell,” Maurice said. “It doesn’t matter. It’s a high stick, it’s up there. Whether you think you’re right or not, it doesn’t matter. You have to learn how to play with your stick on the ice and get your body in the right spots.”
Chris Kreider also scored for New York. Antti Raanta, playing for the first time since Nov. 27, stopped 17 shots. The Finnish goaltender praised his teammates’ penalty killing, especially when Winnipeg had two power plays in the third period.
“I think the first penalty in the third period, we didn’t give them zone time at all,” Raanta said. “The second one was just a great job of blocking the shots and taking the passes away.
“It’s a great thing to be a goalie when the guys do that kind of job in front of you. Everybody’s putting their whole body on the line so it’s a great thing.”
Mark Scheifele had the tying goal for Winnipeg midway through the second period, and Hutchinson finished with 22 saves.
The Rangers had 10 blocked shots and Winnipeg 15.
“They were blocking a few,” McDonagh said of the Jets. “Pretty fortuitous bounce (for Hayes’ goal), but we had the puck in the zone for a while and good things happen there.”
New York opened the scoring at 8:02 of the first on the power play when a trio of precision passes started with Mats Zuccarello and ended with Derek Stepan sending Kreider the puck at the side of an open net.
The Rangers outshot the Jets 10-6 after the first, but could have been up by more goals if not for some tough stops by Hutchinson.
Scheifele, who missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, used a rebound off Paul Postma’s point shot to score his 14th of the season at 9:51 of the second.
New York led 18-13 in shots after the second, which included both teams having shots ring off goal posts.
Winnipeg had two power plays in the third period and New York also had a pair, including the last with 2:56 remaining in the third that Hayes used for his 20th point of the season.
NOTES: Kreider’s goal gave him a point in four straight games, with three goals and two assists. ... The Rangers improved to 9-0-1 in games following a loss this season. ... Winnipeg came in 9 for 9 on the penalty-kill but the Rangers went 2 for 4 on their power play. ... The Jets fell to 8-4-2 in one-goal games.
Rangers: At Chicago on Friday night in the finale of a stretch of three straight road games.
Jets: At Calgary on Saturday night.