Scheifele’s hat trick propels Winnipeg Jets to big 4-2 win over the Rangers

After back-to-back blowout wins over teams near the bottom of the standings, could the Winnipeg Jets continue that strong play against a team tied atop the NHL in points percentage?

On Tuesday night in New York, the Jets answered that question with an empathic “yes” as they took down the Rangers 4-2 at Madison Square Garden.

The Jets were without head coach Rick Bowness for the game as the team announced Tuesday morning that he needed a minor medical procedure and returned to Winnipeg for treatment.

Both teams had several great scoring chances in an entertaining opening period, including one breakaway per side, but Connor Hellebuyck and Igor Shesterkin allowed nothing past them.

The Rangers carried a 13-8 edge in shots on goal into the second but Winnipeg came out strong in the middle frame, scoring the opening goal just over four minutes in.

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The Jets won a puck battle in the New York end and got the puck back to Nate Schmidt at the point. His shot was broken up on the way to the net but it landed on the stick of Mark Scheifele and he swept it past Shesterkin with his 20th of the season.

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The Rangers responded on the power play at the 9:30 mark of the period. Hellebuyck stopped a shot from Alexis Lafreniere but it created a big rebound that Alex Wennberg potted into an open net for his first goal since being traded to New York by the Kraken.

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The Jets wrestled the lead back with a power play goal of their own nearly three minutes later. Tyler Toffoli snapped a short pass to Sean Monahan in the slot and his shot was blocked but it ricocheted to Kyle Connor in the corner and he finished from a sharp angle for his 30th of the campaign.

Winnipeg built on their lead with just over two minutes left in the period when Scheifele poked the puck away from Chris Kreider at the Jets blueline and chased it down before rifling a shot past Shesterkin to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.

The Jets did a great job in allowing very little in terms of decent looks for the Rangers as the third period ticked along but with just under three minutes to go, New York pulled the goalie and the onslaught began in the Winnipeg end.

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Hellebuyck stood his ground to keep it a two-goal game until there was 1:54 to go when Lafreniere got the Rangers within one. A point shot from Adam Fox was blocked in the slot and landed on the stick of the former first-overall pick before he roofed it past Hellebuyck.

Some tense moments followed in the Winnipeg end before the Jets got a clear and with 8.9 seconds to go, Scheifele slid the puck into the empty net from just inside the New York blue line to complete his eighth career hat trick and seal an impressive win for his team.

Hellebuyck finished the night with 39 saves while Shesterkin turned aside 23 shots in defeat.

The Jets will look to make it four wins in a row when they continue this five-game road trip in New Jersey Thursday.