PostGame Analysis Rangers News

Rangers’ Late Push Not Enough Versus Surging Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to nine games with a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The Jackets are riding high at the right time, as they are in the midst of a playoff push where they could realistically finish anywhere between 1st and 4th in the extremely tight Metropolitan Division. The two points they earned last night could turn out to be particularly helpful to their playoff seeding because the Devils, Penguins, and Flyers all suffered defeats at the same time. For the Rangers, they continue to play exciting hockey and stick around in games. They have looked like a rejuvenated group since the trade deadline and will get plenty of opportunities to play spoiler down the stretch, as five of their remaining nine games come against teams competing for playoff positioning.

The Blue Jackets scored the first two tallies of the contest, both coming on wide open shots from the slot due to some defensive miscues from the Blueshirts. The former came from Alexander Wennberg, with the latter from Artemi Panarin. The Rangers lessened the deficit with about five minutes remaining in the second period, when Jesper Fast sprung Kevin Hayes on a breakaway, on which he capitalized and recorded his career-high 21st goal of the season. Hayes’ teammate, Jesper Fast, is currently on a career-high six-game point streak.

Early on in the final frame, Markus Nutivaara wired a shot past Lundqvist to increase the Jackets’ lead to two. An Artemi Panarin high-stick sent the Blueshirts to the power-play, where Mika Zibanejad brought the deficit back to one. Setting up Zibanejad was Neal Pionk, who now has 10 points in his last 10 contests, and is the first Rangers rookie defenseman to achieve that point total in that span since Brian Leetch did so back in the 1988-1999 campaign. Zibanejad is also riding a five-game point scoring streak, and a three-game goal scoring streak.

The Blue Jackets responded, as Artemi Panarin netted his second goal of the night, potting the loose puck after a terrific save by the Rangers’ goaltender. Down two goals in the late stages with Lundqvist pulled, the Rangers were back on the man-advantage again and scored their second power-play-goal of the night, this one coming off a magnificent deflection of Brady Skjei’s shot by Chris Kreider. The hulking 6’3 winger has been dominant as of late, with eight points in his last five games.

After coming within a goal yet again, the Blueshirts were unable to solve Bobrovsky, and Artemi Panarin completed the hat-trick, with an empty-net goal. Panarin has become a Ranger-killer, as he now has ten goals in eight career games versus the Blueshirts. He has now notched two hat-tricks in his career, both coming against the Boys in Blue. Despite the loss, Rangerstown should just be thankful that Henrik Lundqvist seems to be relatively unharmed following his scary collision with John Gilmour and Matt Calvert.

The Rangers return to the ice on Thursday night when they face-off against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center (7:00 PM, MSG). Although eligible to make his NHL debut tomorrow without burning off the first year of his entry-level contract, Lias Andersson will likely not play, as the Rangers will opt to recall Andersson alongside Filip Chytil. You can expect both of them in the lineup for Monday night’s battle with the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

Brian Paget is on Twitter @BrianPaget17

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