The Columbus Blue Jackets couldn’t overcome two separate one-goal deficits in the third period as the New York Rangers skated off with a 3-2 win Monday at Nationwide Arena. The win gave the Rangers six straight wins while the Blue Jackets have now lost four of their last six games. The Rangers have caught the Blue Jackets in the standings, but Columbus has a game-in-hand.
Dan Girardi opened the scoring shorthanded, while Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey scored third-period goals to pace the Rangers. Despite being outplayed in spots, the Rangers held things together and got 30 saves from Antti Raanta. Brandon Dubinsky and Nick Foligno scored for the Blue Jackets, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 20 of 23 Rangers’ shots.
The Blue Jackets looked to start fast to continue their momentum from the Detroit game. After a choppy start, the Blue Jackets got a break. Pavel Buchnevich cleared the puck over the glass from his own zone. Although the Jackets didn’t get a power play goal out of it, they got something just as good, a goal. Two great plays made it happen.
Seth Jones sends a bullet of a pass toward Brandon Saad. Although the puck escaped Saad, he tracked it down and heard Brandon Dubinsky coming behind him. Saad laid a backhand pass and Dubinsky cashed in. That made it 1-0. The goal also was the sixth consecutive goal that Dubinsky has factored in on. He has two goals and four assists on those six goals.
Other than the goal, it was an evenly played out period. Shots finished 7-7. Each team took two penalties. The Blue Jackets began the second period with 1:30 left on Kevin Klein’s holding penalty.
If anyone was going to score at the beginning of the period, you’d think it would have been the Blue Jackets given they had a power play. But just 12 seconds in, an unlikely source tied the score.
Defenseman Dan Girardi found himself with the puck after some great early pressure by the Rangers. Girardi shot the puck and it seemed to confuse Bobrovsky. The knuckle puck looking shot handcuffed Bobrovsky and it tied the game at one.
The rest of the period was a chess match. Both teams played their normal, structured approach but room was hard to find. Then both teams got chances, with the Blue Jackets getting most of them. The best chance perhaps came on a close call from Foligno. His shot just missed the far post.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Rangers 13-6 in the second and 20-14 overall after 40 minutes. Scott Hartnell did not come out for the second period after sliding into the end boards awkwardly. He would not return to the game with a lower-body injury.
The Rangers broke the tie 4:49 into the third period on a breakaway goal by Kevin Hayes. Hayes received an ill-advised Jack Johnson pass. Hayes then beat Savard up the ice and scored.
The Rangers tried sitting back after going up 2-1. The Blue Jackets made them pay by tying the score at 11:53. Savard won a race to keep the puck in. He fed Foligno behind the net. Foligno’s pass in front deflected and Raanta couldn’t stop it. The Blue Jackets seemed to have the momentum. Instead, a great coaching move by Alain Vigneault paid off in a big way.
Vigneault moved Jimmy Vesey to the top line because his speed was clear. Vesey rewarded Vigneault and the Rangers by scoring a beautiful goal on a rush to make the score 3-2. Bobrovsky appeared to think that Vesey was going behind the net. That deception gave Vesey enough room to shoot the puck. That became the game-winning goal. His speed made the Blue Jackets’ life miserable all game.
The Blue Jackets pressed but couldn’t tie the score late. The win gave the Rangers 75 points, putting them in a tie with the Blue Jackets and Penguins. By points percentage, the Penguins are second, the Blue Jackets third and the Rangers fourth.
CBJ – Brandon Dubinsky (8) assisted by Brandon Saad and Seth Jones.
NYR – Dan Girardi (4) assisted by Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller
NYR – Kevin Hayes (15) unassisted
CBJ – Nick Foligno (19) assisted by David Savard
NYR – Jimmy Vesey (13) assisted by Derek Stepan and Nick Holden
THW Three Stars
First: Jimmy Vesey (game-winning goal)
Second: Antti Raanta (30 saves on 32 shots)
Third: Kevin Hayes (goal, assist)
Toronto Maple Leafs at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena, 7:00 PM EST on Wednesday, Feb. 15
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet
2016-17 Meeting: First meeting of season.
New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Barclays Center, 7:00 PM EST on Thursday, Feb. 16
TV Broadcast Channels: MSG and MSG+
2016-17 Meeting: Rangers defeated Islanders 5-3 on Oct. 13
Islanders defeated Rangers 4-2 on Dec. 6