Rangers end season-opening odyssey in Winnipeg

The New York Rangers are longing to play a game in front of the Madison Square Garden faithful, but first the Blueshirts have one more test away from home, as they visit the Winnipeg Jets in tonight's game at the MTS Centre.

New York was one of four NHL teams to begin the season in Europe, but the Rangers will be the last of that group to have their home opener when they host Toronto on Thursday. That game against the Maple Leafs will kick of a stretch of six straight games at the Garden, which recently completed a massive renovation project.

The Rangers, who are off to a 2-2-2 start, appeared to be a road-weary club in their latest outing, as they sent just 19 shots at Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin in a 2-0 loss at Rexall Place.

"We sucked from head to toe," a blunt John Tortorella said of his team's effort. "We need to move by it."

Henrik Lundqvist allowed both goals on 24 shots for the Rangers, but left in the third period with cramping. Lundqvist later revealed that the cramping was caused by a new skate that was not properly broken in. Martin Biron played his first hockey of the season and stopped three shots the rest of the way for New York, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Lundqvist has started 32 straight regular season games for the Rangers, but Biron could get his first start of the year tonight.

Meanwhile, the Jets are coming off their second win of the season after notching a 5-3 decision Saturday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes. It was the first division win of the year for Winnipeg, which is playing in the Southeast after moving from Atlanta in the offseason.

Kyle Wellwood had a goal and an assist for the Jets and Alexander Burmistrov, Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd and Jim Slater also added goals to help Winnipeg snap a two-game slide.

"I think we were a lot more aggressive," said Kane. "We wanted to put pressure on their defense and create offense off of that. We had a lot more energy going into the second and third period and we used that to our advantage."

Ondrej Pavelec started in net for Winnipeg but was pulled after just 6:43 for letting in two goals on five shots. Chris Mason played the rest of the game and gave up just one goal on 19 shots.

Mason, who is 3-0 in four lifetime games against the Rangers, could get his second start of the season tonight.

In other news, the Jets sent forward Mark Scheifele back to his junior team on Sunday, returning the seventh overall pick of this past June's draft to Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League. Scheifele had one goal in seven games with Winnipeg.

The Thrashers posted three wins in four games against the Rangers last season and have taken eight of the last 10 in this series.

This evening's test marks New York's first game in Winnipeg since they played the original Jets, who are now the Phoenix Coyotes, back on Nov. 17, 1995.