In a game that looked early on like a blow out in the New York Rangers’ favor, the Columbus Blue Jackets responded in a big way. Scoring the first six goals of the game, the CBJ quieted the home crowd for much of the game. A late flurry made it close, but the Jackets hung on to win 6-4 at Madison Square Garden.
The way this game started, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Blue Jackets. After taking a penalty 11 seconds in, the Rangers went on a stretch of three or four minutes of domination. They were getting great scoring chances and the Jackets defense was having trouble clearing the zone, but Joonas Korpisalo stood tall.
At the 3:53 mark, on their first shot of the game, the Jackets struck first. Seth Jones gathered a puck just inside the blue line in the offensive zone and sent a fluttering shot past Henrik Lundqvist to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead.
The goal seemed to calm the team down a bit, but the Rangers controlled play for most of the remainder of the first period. Despite multiple spurts of impressive shifts, the Rangers couldn’t find the back of the net.
Whatever was said in the CBJ dressing room between periods worked. In what had been the Jackets’ worst period the last couple weeks, the CBJ scored four goals in the second. Brandon Saad scored the 100th goal of his career just over one minute into the second period. A little over two-and-a-half minutes later, Alexander Wennberg tapped a puck in the net that went off Lundqvist’s glove from a Ryan Murray shot to make it 3-0 CBJ. It was at that point that Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault pulled Lundqvist in favor of 27-year-old Antti Raanta.
The Jackets weren’t done there. Seth Jones added his second goal of the evening as he joined a rush with just over seven minutes remaining in the period. Finally, at the 16:04 mark of the second period, the Blue Jackets tacked on one more, this time from Nick Foligno, to make it 5-0. The Rangers were booed off the ice heading into the second intermission.
On the team’s second period, Seth Jones commented:
Second period was awesome. Got a lot of pucks to the net. I think when we play defense like that, our offense takes over for itself…[Korpisalo] made some big plays for us, and that gave momentum to the offense.
The CBJ seemed to come out strong in the third period. Less than two minutes in, Matt Calvert redirected a Zach Werenski shot past Raanta to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
The New York Rangers finally made some noise and put a little scare into the Jackets. In a span of 3:21 early in the third period, the Rangers scored three times to cut the lead in half, 6-3. After a timeout, the Jackets calmed down and held on. The Rangers added one more late with their goalie pulled, but it wasn’t enough. Jackets win 6-4.
CBJ captain Nick Foligno wasn’t impressed with the team’s third period.
Kinda bothered by what happened there just because of…you know, a 6-0 game, there should be no life. I mean, they had nothing to lose so let’s be honest, they were springing some guys and got some lucky bounces so that’s part of hockey, but I just did not like our answer…but we found a way to win and we have two days of practice here to really work on some things, but that was not the way anyone wants to come in here feeling after a win.
It was an odd game. The Rangers came out so strong that it seemed they would be the one to get out to the six goal lead. Joonas Korpisalo looked decent, but he also got a little lucky with some bouncing pucks. That all came to an end with the Rangers’ late rally, but in the end the Jackets took two points from a division rival on the road.
On the next steps the team needs to take in their development, Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Shaw said after the game:
I think the next stage now is to learn how to play with the additional expectation and pressure that comes with where [we] are in the standings. That sometimes is a bumpy road, and you saw quite a big speed bump in the third tonight. Awesome that we get the two points, hopefully we learn our lessons and we’re a little better next time we get to that situation.
The Jackets still have not lost three games in a row this season. Sitting now with 70 points and a 33-12-4 record, things don’t get easier from here. The team will fly to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins, who are just three points behind the CBJ, on Friday night.