The New York Rangers have picked up their second straight win tonight with a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. If your counting at home, the Rangers have now won five of their last six, and six of their last eight after starting the season with a brutal road trip. As you've probably seen throughout the last month here, we've all been preaching patience with this year's group. They had a new system, a brutal road trip to start the year, and were dealing with some early injuries. Fast forward almost a month later, and this team looks like a well oiled machine, and is rolling out win after win.
Some of that is thanks to the return of Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan, but a majority of it is due the Rangers finally playing solid hockey in all three zones. They are converting on their opponent's mistakes, hard to deal with in the offensive zone, and their power play has had a complete makeover compared to last season. After a handful of games with a learning curve, the Rangers are finally starting to look like the team everyone expected them to be.
With tonight being their second game of a back-to-back, the Rangers didn't waste much time, and took it to the Blue Jackets off of the opening draw. Just four minutes into the game, Carl Hagelin converted on a pretty passing play between Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan. Richards found Callahan with a cross-ice pass, who quickly tapped it over to Hagelin driving the net, and it was an easy tap in at the top of the crease.
From that point on Sergei Bobrovsky went to work, and denied the Rangers after a handful of glorious scoring chances. Just like good goaltenders do, they keep their teams in it during surges, and allows their team to counter with an attack of their own. Bobrovsky did just that as ex-Ranger Fedor Tyutin potted the game tying goal with 2:30 remaining in the first period.
However, the second period would be all Rangers. They forced 21 shots on goal during that time, which tied their season high average. After some early pressure, Ryan Callahan broke through with his second goal in two games, as he redirected home a shot on the power play. As I mentioned earlier about the power play, it's like night and day between this year and last year. They're moving the puck very well, and basically control the offensive zone during the two minutes. It's a great sign, and it's just fun to watch.
Carl Hagelin wound up picking up his second goal of the game shortly after as Mark Letestu wound up shooting the puck into his own net. Usually when a player scores on their own net, it's either due to a deflection off of a piece of equipment, or just a funky bounce. In Letestu's case, he literally took a shot on his own net, and it wound up beating Bobrovsky just over the pad. It was a strange series of events, but it's something the Rangers won't be complaining about.
Their two goal lead would only last about a minute as Ryan Murray ripped a shot through traffic, and it beat Cam Talbot right over the shoulder. Aside from a turnover by Brian Boyle at the blue line, there wasn't much the Rangers or Talbot could really do. The puck at eyes right as it left Murray's stick, and took a clean path right to the twine.
After two solid periods from the Rangers, you had to expect there would be a decline in stamina at some point during their second game of a back-to-back. The third period was just that. The Rangers only put three shots on net during the final 20 minutes, while Columbus put 14 towards Cam Talbot. Although there was a lack of offense, the Rangers were able to lock in down in the defensive end, and Talbot held his ground late in the game.
Ryan McDonagh eventually put the game away as he flipped the puck into the empty net from his own zone, and locked up the Rangers 4-2 win. The Rangers will have the next two days off before they head back to Madison Square Garden for a meeting with the Florida Panthers.
Keep it rolling!