Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 22 shots he faced and earned the 40th shutout of his National Hockey League career Tuesday night as the Rangers arrived at the All Star break with a 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. With 66 points, the Rangers sit alone in first place in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Boston Bruins at the break.
Ironically Lundqvist was not even supposed to play Tuesday against the Jets. The start was supposed to belong to Martin Biron, who had backstopped a pair of victories over the Jets already this season, but who came down with a case of the flu and was not even able to dress for the game---Chad Johnson was summoned from Connecticut to back up Lundqvist---much less play.
The Rangers played a very strong defensive game, limiting Winnipeg to only six shots on goal in each of the first two periods. Lundqvist was tested most often in the third period, but was up to the task denying all ten shots he faced in the final stanza. Lundqvist now has five shutouts on the season, second most in the NHL.
Ryan Callahan led the Rangers with a goal and an assist, while playing more than 20 minutes. The Blueshirts' captain opened the scoring 4:05 into the first period, converting a rebound of Anton Stralman's slap shot for his 17th goal. Callahan later stole the puck in the Winnipeg zone and quickly fed Brad Richards for a goal at 16:22 of the third period which closed out the scoring.
In between those two tallies John Mitchell netted his fifth of the season---and third in the last five games---when he beat Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec from the left circle at 13:22 of the second period.
In what was a very physical contest, Mike Rupp stood tall for his teammates by twice dropping the gloves with Jets' heavyweight Chris Thorburn.
The Rangers now have five full days off before they practice next Monday. The Blueshirts return to action next Tuesday in New Jersey.
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