The New York Rangers almost gave two points to the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight after they blew a 3-0 lead late in the third period. Although, they found a way to rebound, and defeated the Blue Jackets 4-3 in the shootout to move within two points of first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The New York Rangers were looking for a quick start tonight in front of their home town fans, and did exactly that early on in the first period. Just five minutes into regulation, Kevin Hayes converted on his 11th goal of the season, and gave the Rangers a very early 1-0 lead. Carl Hagelin picked up the lone assist on the goal after he knocked the puck loose at the blue line, and fed Hayes with a quick drop pass. Hayes had plenty of time to work with even though he came in 1-on-3, and sniped the puck over Curtis McElhinney's shoulder.
After the Rangers grabbed the early courtesy of Hayes, they responded again under three minutes later to extend their lead by two. Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis connected on a beautiful passing play behind the goal line, and St. Louis wound up banking the puck in off of McElhinney's back. St. Louis has really turned around his game after breaking his scoring drought, and that line had an absolutely dominating first period against the Blue Jackets.
A few minutes after the slew of goals, the Blue Jackets had a big opportunity to get back into the game, and went to work on their second power play of the game. However, the Blue Jackets weren't able to generate much of anything, and the Rangers actually out-chanced them pretty heavily while down a player. Cam Talbot didn't have a ton of work within the first 20 minutes, but he did make a few key saves late in the period to retain the two goal lead.
Right at the start of the second period, the Rangers continued to attack the Blue Jackets, and left right where they left off in the first. Just 1:24 into the middle frame, Martin St. Louis came away with his second goal of the night, and gave the Rangers the 3-0 lead. Ryan McDonagh created the entire play by looking off his shot, and finding St. Louis wide open on the backdoor. McDonagh's pass was so beautiful that St. Louis had the entire net to shoot at it, and he deposited it in behind McElhinney.
At that point, the game appeared as if it was going to be a blowout, but the Blue Jackets had other plans. A minute later, the Blue Jackets came right back down the ice, and Marko Dano cut the Rangers lead to 3-1. The Rangers had a bit of a defensive lapse on the goal, and were caught puck watching while Dano snuck out front all alone. Nick Foligno was able to hit him with a quick centering feed, and the rest is pretty much history.
Following the goal, both teams continued to trade chances, and the next goal came with under two minutes remaining in the period. Unfortunately, the Rangers were caught in their defensive zone once again, and Artem Anisimov eventually banged home his own rebound. The play wound up going to review, but it was quickly deemed that the puck slid under Cam Talbot, and made it a 3-2 game.
With a big third period ahead, the Rangers needed a better performance than in the second period in order to secure to points. It wound up being the exact opposite, though, and the Rangers were only able to put a single shot on goal in the final twenty minutes. The biggest issues with the Rangers as of late has been their habit of falling back on leads, only for it to come back to bite them late in the game.
The Blue Jackets were able to find the game-tying goal with under five minutes remaining, coming off a point shot from David Savard. Cam Talbot didn't appear to have any screen in front of him, but it did look like the puck took a quick bounce off of a stick in front. Regardless, it wasn't any crazy deflection, and he needs to scoop that one up late in the game. Aside from that goal, Talbot had another solid performance, and also came up with a big stop on the final shot in the shootout.
Luckily this time the Rangers were able to pull out the win in the shootout, but they cannot be playing with fire every time they have a late third period lead. Going into the playoffs with that type of mentality will not get you very far during the postseason. Anyways, overtime wasn't able to decide a winner and we went off to the shootout where the Rangers haven't had the best of outcomes.
Marty St. Louis was able to put the Rangers up in the first round of the shootout, but Mark Letestu came right back to tie it up. Both J.T. Miller and Ryan Johansen came up empty in the second round, which left Rick Nash up next on the list. Nash came down and ripped a quick shot over the pad of McElhinney, and gave the Rangers the 2-1 lead in the third round. Cam Atkinson had the tying goal on his stick, but he fumbled the puck in close, and Talbot was able to get a poke check on the loose puck.
In terms of rebounding after giving up the 3-0 lead, this was a huge turnaround win, and two big points that the Rangers needed to come away with. However, they will need to tighten things up with the Calgary Flames coming in Tuesday evening.