The New York Rangers picked up a huge win this evening as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 3-1, and moved back in third place in the Metropolitan Division. Rick Nash led the way tonight, and even thought he didn't score, he sure as hell pumped pure adrenaline throughout the entire bench. Nash had been taking abuse all night long from the hometown fans, Sergei Bobrovsky, and finally Matt Calvert. His scrap at the beginning of the third period fueled the Rangers as the put up three consecutive goals to knock off the Blue Jackets.
Hopefully Nash continues to keep up that level of play going forward, because an angry Rick Nash is a ridiculously good Rick Nash. Maybe not the fighting part, but you see what I'm getting at. Either way, right from the opening puck drop, you knew this game was going to be an all out battle. It had all the feelings of a playoff game, and technically, it was with the amount of points that were on the line at Nationwide Arena. It was a four point swing in either direction depending on the outcome, and you could tell that the Rangers wanted it that much more.
While the first two periods went scoreless, it surely wasn't action-less. There were bodies flying everywhere, scoring chances galore, and these two teams were just beating on each other relentlessly. Nearing the end of the second period, we had our first real get together of the game. Rick Nash has a semi-breakaway heading in on Sergei Bobrovsky, and was basically sandwiched as he attempted to make a move around the goalie. As a result, Nash wound up falling forward into Bobrovsky, and the puck somehow found it's way between his pads.
The initial reaction was that it was a goal, but immediately after Nash started to celebrate, the referee behind the net waived the goal off. The official explanation from the NHL was that Nash made incidental contact with the goalie, and therefore the goal was both waived off, and unreviewable. Now, I've watched that replay at least 15-20 times since it happened, and I'm still trying to figure out how they ruled that no goal.
It's just sickening to see the amount of times the Rangers catch the short end of the stick, and I'm pretty sure this one took the cake. However, tempers flared quite a bit following the no-goal call as Nash wound up getting into it with Bobrovsky. As Nash went to go retrieve his stick from the crease, Bobrovsky swatted it away, so Nash responded accordingly.
I'm not normally a fan of players going after goalies, but when you purposely toss someone stick away as they're trying to get, AND stand there with a smirk on your face, you deserve what's coming. All hell broke loose, and somehow, the Blue Jackets came away with a power play when it was all said and done. Nothing wound up coming of it as the Rangers locked down the Jackets pretty well with the man advantage.
Finally, in the third period, we had our first goal scoring of the game. Just a minute into the third period, Benoit Pouliot wound up coughing up the puck at the blue line, and sent Nick Foligno in all alone. Foligno ripped a laser of a shot over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist, and the Jackets controlled their first lead of the game.
That lead would be pretty short lived though, as just over 40 seconds later, Derek Stepan tied the game up at 1-1. Ryan McDonagh sets up this goal from behind the goal line, and catches Derek Stepan wide open in the high slot. It was just a huge goal, and an even bigger response after falling down 1-0 just a few seconds prior. The Rangers continued to pressure the Jackets following the Stepan goal, and came away with their first lead of the game at the 11:31 mark. Derick Brassard wound up catching Bobrovsky sleeping in behind the net, and somehow flipped the puck between Bobrovsky's pad, and the post.
You could tell just by the way that Brassard reacted during his celebration, that the Rangers truly wanted this game. Even after Hagelin iced the game with an empty net goal, Nash's reaction was priceless as well. It was a mixed bag of anger an excitement, something you want to see our of your best players. As big of a win as this was, it will be pretty short lived, as the Rangers now need to look ahead to tomorrow night. They'll be facing off against yet another Metro Division rival in the New Jersey Devils, and two huge points on the line once again.
If the Rangers played the way they did tonight, they should be alright.