The New York Rangers dropped their first game following the All-Star Break to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled in a 4-goal second period and the visitors won 6-4.
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The New York Rangers came out in their first game following the All-Star Break looking to make a statement. Their first task was Metropolitan Division clash with the Columbus Blue Jackets who entered the game 5 points ahead of the Rangers in the standings.
New York earned a power-play only 11 seconds into the game, but failed to score after numerous chances. Columbus capitalized first on a wrister from the blueline by All-Star defenseman Seth Jones. Nick Holden put a perfect screen on Henrik Lundqvist on the goal, leaving the Rangers netminder helpless.
Neither team scored for the remainder of the first period, but the Rangers carried play. Kevin Klein failed to score on a wide-open opportunity in front of the net, while New York sustained an extended shift with numerous chances that could have resulted in a few goals.
The first ended with the Rangers trailing, but it would be foolish to complain about the way the Rangers played.
Then, the Rangers completely fell apart.
Moving onto the second period, the play opened with the teams skating 4-on-4 for a carry-over penalty. Columbus quickly extended their lead on a 2-on-1 opportunity, Alexander Wennberg fed Brandon Saad who beat Lundqvist to make the game 2-0.
The Blue Jackets continued to pound the Rangers on another 4-on-4, as Wennberg scored a goal of his own to give the away team a 3-0 lead. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled 3:42 into the second period.
The play came to a lull in the second period following the goaltending change by the Rangers. The Rangers has seemingly checked out of the game mentally and emotionally.
Seth Jones scored his second goal of the game, and Nick Foligno continued the onslaught as the Blue Jackets carried a 5-0 lead into the second intermission. Disastrous work by the Rangers.
Columbus did the Rangers no hometown favors, scoring under two minutes into the third period to extend the lead to 6-0.
A minute later the Rangers put their first goal of the game past Korpisalo.
Jimmy Vesey worked along the right wing boards and fired a sharp angle shot towards the net. His shot found its way behind the Columbus goaltender for his 12th of the season, his first in 10 games.
The Rangers began to apply some consistent pressure following the Vesey goal, forcing an immediate icing call. Michael Grabner was denied on a breakaway opportunity but eventually scored on a deflection in the goal crease to pull the Rangers with in four, 6-2.
Following another icing call after the Grabner goal, the Rangers controlled the zone and scored on an ensuing faceoff. Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad worked the defense to find Chris Kreider alone in front to continue the third-period resurgence.
New York’s comeback would get as close as a two-goal differential after Kevin Klein scored with the goal pulled late in the period. However, the game would end with a score of 6-4. The Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 37-26, and out chanced them 30-17.
The Rangers had plenty of jump to start the game, putting five shots on net during the opening power play. However, following the power play, the Rangers only generated 2 shots on goal at even strength in the next 16 minutes.
New York’s centers had a good first period, generating several opportunities to the right of the goaltender. Mika Zibanejad was firing at will in the first period, getting several good looks on the power play. Derek Stepan had a few looks alone in front of the net that he could not convert.
Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider seemed to take things personally when the Rangers fell behind in the second period. The 29-year old Norweigan brings that energy to the lineup every night and won’t be blamed for this game, and Kreider’s breakout season looks well on its way to continuing in the second half.
The third period gave the Rangers some reason to feel optimistic moving forward, putting three goals on the board in just over three minutes. This group will continue to score, but they must play a full 60 minutes to keep themselves in games.
Nick Holden couldn’t get out of his own way for the first two periods of the game. He screened Lundqvist perfectly on the first goal of the game and was victimized on the 2-on-1 to start the second period.
Brady Skjei and Ryan McDonagh picked up where they left off as the Rangers’ primary puck movers on the blue line. Both led the team with 3 shots on goal through two periods, despite Skjei seeing the fewest minutes on defense.
Marc Staal was quiet in his first game back from injury, which is a good thing on most nights. However, the Rangers need a puck mover on their blue line and Adam Clendening must be reinserted at the expense of either Dan Girardi or Kevin Klein.
Tough night for Henrik Lundqvist, who didn’t have a chance on the Blue Jackets’ first goal, which came on their first shot of the game. The Rangers carried most of the play the first period but came out in the second period flat, and abandoned their goaltender.
Antti Raanta entered early in the second period and did not have much to play for with the Rangers taking themselves out of the game mentally. He was out of position on the Foligno goal, but anyone could have scored for the Blue Jackets during that second period stretch.