Updated at 1:03 a.m., March 15, 2013
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Jets captain Andrew Ladd believes momentum can carry Winnipeg into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ladd finished off the Jets’ 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night with an empty-net goal. Winnipeg has earned nine of 10 points in the past five games (4-0-1).
“We’ve got to feed on what we’ve done the last couple games and the success we’ve had and the good feelings that come from that,” Ladd said. “When things are happening and things are going well, you get a sense of your game.
“You know what to do, you realize why you’re doing things, and it makes it easier to make those decisions.”
Nik Antropov scored the game’s first goal, and Antti Miettinen had his first of the season for Winnipeg (14-11-2). Ladd’s clinching goal — his 14th tally of the season — came with 39 seconds left for the Jets, who also had a pair of assists from Dustin Byfuglien.
Antropov has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak.
Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves to earn his 11th win.
Ryan Callahan was the lone scorer for the Rangers (13-11-2), who have dropped two straight in the middle of a four-game road trip. Hendrik Lundqvist stopped 30 shots.
Eighth-place Winnipeg has a two-point lead over the Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but the Jets have played one more game than New York.
“It was a tough game to play,” said Pavelec, who stopped Marian Gaborik on a penalty shot. “They have some big guys in the lineup, and I think we handled it pretty well. In that third period, I think we played really well.”
The teams kept the tempo high in the second period, and the Jets went ahead 2-1 on Miettinen’s first goal of the season in his seventh game.
Byfuglien sent a wrist shot from the point at Lundqvist, who was screened by Miettinen. The puck deflected off Miettinen and found the net at 14:52.
Both teams had 22 shots on goal through two periods.
Both goalies made some good saves in the third, with Lundqvist making two big stops in the final three minutes to keep it a one-goal game.
Lundqvist was pulled for an extra skater just over a minute and a half remaining, but the Rangers turned the puck over in Winnipeg’s end.
Olli Jokinen passed it up in the neutral zone to Blake Wheeler, who moved it ahead to Ladd for an easy 14th goal of the season.
New York paid for a penalty early in the first period after defenseman Michael Del Zotto went to the box for cross-checking at 1:46.
Just 12 seconds later, Jets center Kyle Wellwood passed the puck across the ice just inside the blue line to Byfuglien, who fired the puck at the net. Antropov flipped the puck past Lundqvist with a backhanded shot.
Antropov is on a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists.
The Rangers got a free chance to score when Gaborik was awarded a penalty shot after Byfuglien hooked him at 11:17 of the first period, but his attempt to stuff the puck under Pavelec’s pad was unsuccessful.
“We’ve got to capitalize,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “When you have a penalty shot, you have a breakaway, some really good looks there, you need to get something done there.
“Hopefully, we can get our next game, some guys gain some confidence and we score some goals along with defending the proper way.”
The Rangers, who lost three of four, will complete a four-game trip on Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Callahan tied it 1-1 at 1:11 of the second period when he stood in front of the net and redirected a shot by Derek Stepan.
NOTES: Winnipeg will play at Toronto on Saturday and at Ottawa on Sunday.
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