The New York Rangers viewed an early Western Conference trip as an opportunity to bond with each other and avoid a tough stretch late in the season when they might be jockeying for playoff positioning.
Now they can also view it as an enormous success.
The Rangers will attempt to cap a perfect five-game trip with another win Monday night when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.
The Rangers are playing their seventh road game out of nine contests to start the season and are 4-0-0 on their trip against Western Conference opponents. In the first three games of the trip, the Rangers outscored Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton by a 10-2 margin, but the fourth game was slightly more difficult to get the two points.
New York outlasted Vancouver for a 4-3 victory Saturday when K’Andre Miller scored his second career overtime goal off a pass from Chris Kreider 3:48 into the extra period. Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad scored power-play goals as the Rangers blew a pair of one-goal leads.
“Crazy game,” New York coach Peter Laviolette said. “Good ending for us, but it’s just a night that was dominated by specialty teams and some odd stuff that we had to deal with throughout the course of the game. I like the fact that we stayed in it, kept battling.”
New York has at least six wins in its first eight contests for the first time since 2009-10 and is seeking its first five-game road winning streak since Nov. 30-Dec. 18, 2022. The Rangers scored three power-play goals for the first time since Jan. 3 and have 10 power-play goals so far.
Besides the power play, Panarin also is off to a quick start. He has four goals and eight assists in a season-opening eight-game points streak, the longest by a Ranger since Marian Gaborik produced an eight-game points streak to start 2009-10.
Winnipeg lost three of its first four games but heads into Monday seeking at least a point for a fifth straight game. The Jets saw a three-game winning streak halted Saturday and settled for a point with a 4-3 shootout loss in Montreal.
Adam Lowry scored on a penalty shot in the first period and tallied again 15 seconds into the second period. Nino Niederreiter scored 18 seconds after Lowry’s second goal but the Jets blew a two-goal lead and could not score in the shootout.
They were left to lament not getting the extra point in a game when they took a season-high 45 shots on goal and went scoreless on four power plays.
“Certainly if we put up 45 shots most nights and limit the chances we give up we feel like we’ll give ourselves a great chance to win every night,” Lowry said. “Maybe just some small things where we fed into their momentum and allowed them to generate some chances. I think that’s just game management by us and puck management.”
Besides trying to extend their points streak to five games, the Jets will welcome back former teammate Blake Wheeler, who does not have a point in his first eight games with the Rangers. Wheeler spent the previous 12 seasons with the Jets before joining the Rangers in free agency.
“It’s going to be weird, that’s for sure,” Winnipeg defenseman Brendon Dillon said, according to the Winnipeg Free Press. “Such a big part of the organization, captain, a good friend to a lot of us in the room.”