The New York Rangers trailed 3-1 after two, clawed their way back to even the score, but ultimately fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 by way of the skills competition. Rick Nash had two goals for the Blueshirts–both on the power play–against his former mates, Brian Boyle scored for the (gasp) second consecutive game, and Ryan Johansen notched the shootout clincher for Columbus.
There's two distinctly different narratives for this game: the positive and the negative.
First, the positive: The Rangers played another strong game. They moved their feet, they generated some scoring chances (41 shots), the power play was clicking (2 for 6), Nash was stellar, and they battled back from a two goal deficit to eek out a point. In the words of Ryan Callahan:
"We showed some character coming back. It's bittersweet when you tie it up like that, but end up losing in the shootout."
And, they did it without the services of Chris Kreider for the last two periods, after the winger was given an early shower on a questionable boarding call.
Now, the negative: The Blueshirts fell to 8-10-3 at home, lost to a divisional opponent beneath them in the standings, squandered a chance to get 2 games over .500 for the first time this season (with Chicago on the road up next), and saw their goaltender lose out in a battle of Vezina winners. It's a little late in the season to be hanging your hat on moral victories, and that's what this game is.
Yes, the Rangers had the edge in play, and you most certainly can't question their effort or battle level, but they again made a series of mistakes that undermined their efforts. Alain Vigneault said about the game:
"We made a pretty strong comeback, but I thought we deserved to be in a better position than we were after 2, our guys worked extremely hard."
It was two defensive mistakes in the 2nd that turned a 1-1 game into a two goal hole for the Blueshirts. The first, an error by Anton Stralman in allowing his shot to be blocked by Cam Atkinson, who scored on the ensuing breakaway, and the second, when James Wisniewski beat Derick Brassard up ice and wired a wrister over Henrik Lundqvist's shoulder.
Two errors, in an otherwise strong period, and the Rangers paid for them both. On two of the three regulation goals, Lundqvist was essentially beaten one-on-one–a clear breakaway by Atkinson, and a shooter with a clear shot at the net in Wisniewski. If he's able to come up with either of those saves, it's a radically different hockey game, a fact that Lundqvist–ever his harshest critic–seemed all too aware of:
"The difference tonight was I didn't stop the breakaways and he (Sergei Bobrovsky) did." Adding that on breakaways "a lot of it is patience and confidence."
There's that word again–confidence–suggesting that the Blueshirts' 53 million dollar man still isn't quite where he needs to be mentally.
In contrast, the exploits of the Rangers other star serves as the most encouraging development to be taken from this game. With two goals, Rick Nash notched his first multi-goal game of the campaign. The first in particular–a rip of a wrister from the left circle that went off the bar and in–was a sight for sore eyes for Rangers' fans.
But for the Rangers as a whole, this had to be a bitter pill to swallow. A well-played game against an inferior team, resulting in a point left on the table. It's a results based business, and while the product out on the ice may have aesthetically been up to par, the Rangers made enough mistakes to cheat themselves out of the outcome they wanted.
-According to Larry Brooks, supplementary discipline is not expected regarding Chris Kreider's hit on Fedor Tyutin, and rightfully so, as the hit appeared to be from the side. Tyutin later left the game with an unrelated injury.
-With the emphasis on injury prevention, anytime a player goes awkwardly into the boards, expect it to be a major. No referee wants to be known as the guy who didn't raise his arm on a play which results in serious injury.
-Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.
-The shootout has lost its luster. It's just a horrible way to decide games, especially after an entertaining overtime session.
-Somehow doubt Dan Carcillo makes his Rangers' debut Wednesday in Chicago.
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- New York Rangers Need Rick Nash to Find His All-Star Form
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