WINNIPEG, Manitoba - With a two-game losing streak hanging like a cloud over the Rangers in the third period Tuesday night, Chris Kreider took a headman pass from J.T. Miller and took off.

Kreider sped past defenseman Dustin Byfuglein, deked goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, slid the puck into the net and then slid into the cage himself to score the winner at 16:14 of the third period.

Kreider's 21st goal of the season gave the Blueshirts a 3-2 victory in a game that the Jets seemed destined to win.

Henrik Lundqvist, making only his second start in two months since taking a puck to the neck, played very well, making 32 saves, but the Rangers managed to edge the Jets, who are in a battle for a wild-card spot in the West.

With 6:10 left, Lundqvist made a huge save with his glove, stopping Jiri Tlusty.

The Rangers had just 24 shots on Pavelec.

"A lot of times it just comes down to desperation more than quality or skill," Lundqvist said earlier Tuesday. "This game is so much about desperation and how much you want it."

The Rangers are 48-21-7 with 103 points and in first place in the Metropolitan Division, eight points ahead of both the Penguins and Islanders with six games to play.

The Rangers will practice Wednesday in Minnesota, where they visit the Wild Thursday.

The Jets were storming early in each of the first two periods and former Ranger Lee Stempniak, shipped here at the trade deadline, rifled a shot past Lundqvist from the left circle at 1:24 of the second for a 2-1 lead. It was his third goal since the deal.

In Boston on Saturday, Lundqvist allowed four goals in 26 minutes. "I think he's only going to get better after that first period in Boston," coach Alain Vigneault predicted Tuesday morning. He was correct. Lundqvist stopped 20 of 22 in the first 40 minutes.

The Rangers had their second power play of the game with 10:29 left in the second, when Mathieu Perreault was sent off for interference on Dom Moore. After the Rangers got set up, Derick Brassard fielded a pass from Ryan McDonagh, took a couple of strides and whistled a slap shot from the top of the left circle through a screen that sneaked inside the near post for the 2-2 tie at 10:13. It was only the 13th shot on Pavelec and only the second power-play goal in the last 28 chances for the Blueshirts.

The Jets twice missed wide early on another power play, with Rick Nash in the box for hooking with 6:21 left and didn't get a shot on Lundqvist.

The first period ended 1-1, with the Jets holding a decided advantage in shots, 16-9. Lundqvist faced eight early, and was beaten on a flip by Jim Slater from the right side. Keith Yandle had lost his stick and Lundqvist didn't have the best angle at the post.

But Mats Zuccarello swooped in to score his 15th at 9:42 after Pavelec couldn't prevent a rebound.

Neither team scored on one power play opportunity. Lundqvist was tested early, on Bryan Little's wrister between the hashmarks and Blake Wheeler's wraparound at 2:15. The Rangers leveled the pace as the period wore on.