Little get 2 goals, Jets beat Rangers 5-2
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Winnipeg’s top line had the outburst it was looking for.
Bryan Little, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler combined for nine points and the Jets beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Friday night.
Little led the barrage with two goals — both in the first period — and Wheeler had four assists. Ladd had an empty-net goal and an assist after the trio mustered up just four points in their past four games.
“We were going and getting chances all night. I mean, we could have had a couple of more, too,” Little said. “It definitely felt that we were struggling to get some offense. Even our chances haven’t come that easy in the last couple of weeks.”
“Just confidence-wise, it’s nice to see some pucks go into the net,” Ladd said. “I think for any line, it’s nice to see some results.”
Winnipeg also got goals from blue liners Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers.
J.T. Miller and Dan Boyle scored for the Rangers.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. “A lot of mind racing as far as what you can do better and that’s not a good situation to be in.”
Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck picked up his fifth win in seven starts with a 26-save effort. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves and fell to 15-8-3 on the year.
Little opened the scoring 5:03 into the first period after corralling Wheeler’s pass.
The duo hooked up again 2:31 later. 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 the net.
“Everything we wanted to do out there we did tonight,” Little said. “I thought we were ready to play from the drop of the puck. We were just quicker all over the ice.”
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 behind Hellebuyck following Kevin Hayes’ initial shot.
The Jets regained their two-goal cushion 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.
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 defenseman wired a snap shot 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 was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 2001 and played in his 595th game for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, surpassing the old mark set by Ilya Kovalchuk.