WINNIPEG – Tired, well travelled and with their starting goaltender on the bench, the New York Rangers found a way to end their season-opening seven-game road trip on a winning note.
Now they just want to go home.
Backup Martin Biron made 27 saves and Ryan Callahan scored the winner on a power play as the Rangers fought to a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
“If you look at it, we’ve played seven road games with a trip to Europe and a Western Canadian trip and we’ve only lost two games in regulation,” Biron said.
“We got points in five out of the seven. You win three of them, it makes a big difference going home.”
Ruslan Fedotenko also had a power-play goal for New York. Defenceman Dan Girardi assisted on both goals.
Centre Nik Antropov had the only goal for Winnipeg (2-5-1) in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,004 at MTS Centre.
The Rangers (3-2-2) began the pre-season in Sweden and stayed on the road. Their home-opener is Thursday against Toronto in a renovated Madison Square Gardens.
Biron got the nod in net over starter Henrik Lundqvist as part of a planned rotation. Lundqvist had left last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Edmonton in the third period because of pain from new skates.
The Jets now embark on their own seven-game road trip, beginning in Philadelphia on Thursday.
They can only hope for similar success as the Rangers, and that could happen if they continue to play as they did in the third period.
Winnipeg came out firing in the third, outshooting the Rangers 12-1 over the first eight minutes until Jets forward Chris Thorburn was sent to the box for tripping, leading to Callahan’s winner.
“I don’t think our players can sit there and hang their heads on the effort they gave,” Jets head coach Claude Noel said.
“I think we probably deserved a better fate. Didn’t get it, so we move on to the next game…We did everything right but win the game.”
Chris Mason started in net for Winnipeg. Last Saturday, he replaced Ondrej Pavelec after the young netminder gave up two early goals against Carolina in what ended up being a 5-3 Jets win.
“I think we’ve had some other losses where we’ve probably been pretty disappointed in the way we played,” said Mason, who faced 17 shots.
“It just came down to they kept the puck out of the net in the third period and we had an unfortunate bounce.”
Callahan scored the game-winner after his shot went off the skate of Winnipeg defenceman Zach Bogosian at 8:41.
New York was 2-5 on the power play and the Jets 0-1.
Antropov said the lengthy road trip may be good for the team as it struggles to win back-to-back games this season.
“It’s going to be a lot of team bonding and stuff like that,”Antropov said.
“It’s a good thing to get together as a group and spend time with just the guys.”
Notes: Alex Burmistrov assisted on Antropov’s goal and is now on a five-game point streak…Jets centre Jim Slater sat out after taking a knee to the head in Saturday’s game and is listed day-to-day.