NEW YORK — The New York Rangers got their third straight shutout victory and reached 50 wins for the fifth time in their history by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for his second straight shutout. Ryan Strome scored two goals, and Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp each had two assists for New York, which has won six of seven.
“It’s not just the last three games, the shutouts, it’s been the last number of games we’ve been playing a lot better defensively,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “It makes you feel more confident as a coach that you’re not just winning because of your goaltending.”
The last time New York had three straight shutout wins in a season was Feb. 4-10, 1973.
The Rangers also won 4-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday and by the same score against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, when Shesterkin made 20 saves.
New York’s shutout streak is at 180:06. The team record is 297:43 in 1927-28.
“Guys are buying in pretty good,” Strome said. “I think we understand what it takes to win right now and what makes us successful, and when we do that for a good chunk of the game we give ourselves a good chance to win. Obviously, three straight wins is pretty impressive.”
The Rangers (50-21-6) also moved into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Carolina Hurricanes. They each have 106 points through 77 games.
New York last won 50 games in a season in 2014-15, when it set a team record with 53.
“As a coach, you never come in here and say, ‘Well, 50 wins would be a great season for us,'” Gallant said. “You just take it one game at a time and that’s how we do things. But it’s huge. It’s great to see. I don’t think they’ve done it too many times here. Five. What’s that say? It’s been a real good year and a lot of fun. We’ve got five games left and hopefully build on that.”
Eric Comrie made 31 saves in his first start since March 31 for the Jets (35-31-11), who have lost three in a row and are 2-6-1 since March 31.
“I thought Eric played outstanding,” Winnipeg coach Dave Lowry said. “He made a lot of big saves, but he played quiet. The puck hit him. There were not a lot of second and third chances where pucks were hitting him and coming out. He was in control and he gave us a chance.”
The Jets are 10 points behind the Dallas Stars for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with five games remaining and can be eliminated as early as Wednesday.
“The fun part of hockey is winning games; within the game the fun part is dominating, playing the full 60 minutes with the other team feeling like they’re trying to catch up to you, to your pace, to your puck movement, to your pressure,” Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois said. “I think that’s what’s frustrating. There’s some nights where it just feels like we’re playing catchup, even if we’re close, even if it’s a close game. With the talent we have, I think we can do a much better job of forcing teams to play our way, and not us feeling like we’re trying to catch up to their pace, trying to catch up to their puck movement and their breakouts, and everything.”
Strome gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 15:57 of the second period.
Adam Fox moved the puck up to Panarin, who found Mika Zibanejad coming down the right wing. Zibanejad carried the puck through the circle and fed Strome in the slot for a backhand redirection, the puck chipping up and over Comrie’s right shoulder.
“We’ve tried to attack with more speed on our entries on the power play,” Strome said. “Sometimes we get a little slow on the power play and that kind of hurts us. When things aren’t going great we can just use our speed and our skill and attack the net. You see the speed Mika had wide and I think that makes teams really respect him and someone gets open.”
Morgan Barron was in the penalty box for high sticking Filip Chytil.
New York got Copp from the Jets on March 21 for Barron, two conditional second-round draft picks and a fifth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. Copp and Barron were playing against their former teams for the first time.
Fox made it 2-0 at 11:47 of the third period with a wrist shot from inside the blue line and Strome scored into an empty net at 19:27 for the 3-0 final.
NOTES: The Jets recalled goalie Mikhail Berdin from Manitoba of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis prior to the game. Connor Hellebuyck had a non-COVID illness and was unable to back up Comrie after skating in warmups while Berdin was on his way to New York. … The Rangers were 1-for-1 on the penalty kill, improving to 19-for-19 in the past nine games. … New York also won at least 50 games in 1991-92 (50), 1993-94 (52) and 2011-12 (51). … Panarin has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the past eight games. … Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers had his NHL career-high nine-game point streak end (14 points; six goals, eight assists).