The Columbus Blue Jackets had a 4-1 lead in the second period only to see it fade away for good as the New York Rangers scored four unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to defeat the Blue Jackets 5-4 in front of a huge crowd at Nationwide Arena. The loss is the Blue Jackets’ second straight loss after winning 16 consecutive games.
Michael Grabner scored twice unassisted, including the game-winning goal with just over 16 seconds left in regulation. Adam Clendening scored his first two goals of the season in the third period to help the Rangers come back from two goals down. Oscar Lindberg also tallied his first goal of the season for the Rangers. After a shaky start, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 33 of 37 shots. Curtis McElhinney stopped 29 of 34 in the defeat.
Before the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault stressed staying out of the penalty box. His team didn’t heed the message. In just over 11 minutes, the Rangers committed three minors. That was after they were down 1-0.
Markus Nutivaara was wide open just inside the blue line and blasted the puck past Henrik Lundqvist to open the scoring. That was Nutivaara’s second of the season. Then the Rangers paraded to the penalty box.
First, it was Ryan McDonagh at 4:27. Just 10 seconds later, it was 2-0 thanks to Cam Atkinson’s 19th of the season. After great plays by Nick Foligno and Sam Gagner, Atkinson found himself in his office. As usual, he made no mistake. Then Mats Zuccarello and Marek Hrivik took penalties. Although the Jackets didn’t score, they were very dangerous.
But 46 seconds after Hrivik’s penalty ended, the Rangers got a 2-on-1. Oscar Lindberg came down the left side and beat Curtis McElhinney to make it 2-1. That was a huge goal for the Rangers, as it quieted the crowd and cut the lead in half.
Then the Blue Jackets bottom-six responded with a big goal at 15:57. Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell made great plays on the puck to set the goal up. Gagner centered the puck and Hartnell batted it in out of mid-air. That made it 3-1. That’s how the period ended with the Blue Jackets leading 15-6 in shots.
With the score 3-1, the next goal would prove huge in this game. The Blue Jackets took exactly three minutes to get their fourth goal thanks to a wonderful play by Scott Hartnell. Hartnell chipped the puck in the air between two Rangers defenders. The puck was taken off the wall by Lukas Sedlak and he beat Lundqvist on a breakaway for a 4-1 lead. That goal proved huge.
Just 1:12 later, speedster Michael Grabner got a break and beat McElhinney over the glove. That was Grabner’s 17th of the season, which leads the Rangers. That made the score 4-2.
The remaining part of the period settled down for both sides after that. No more goals were scored. Just one penalty was called for the rest of the period. David Savard got a slashing call, but the Jackets didn’t allow a shot on goal during the power play. The Rangers came into Saturday with the third best power play in the league. Having just one penalty to kill through 40 minutes has made the Jackets job easier going to the third period. The Blue Jackets held a 28-18 shots advantage after two periods.
The Rangers needed the next goal. At 1:22, they got just what they were looking for, and then some. Adam Clendening opened the third period scoring on a power-play to cut the Columbus lead to 4-3. That was his first goal of the season. He wasn’t finished.
Clendening connected again at 12:57 to tie the score at four. The Blue Jackets got nervous, especially after Clendening’s first goal. They ran around most of the period until the score was tied.
Then the game picked up in intensity as the clock wound down. The Blue Jackets did have a couple of chances to break the tie, only to have Henrik Lundqvist make a couple of key saves. This game was destined for overtime. That was until the game-deciding turnover happened.
Seth Jones turned the puck over to the wrong player. Grabner raced in and scored with just 16.5 seconds left, to lift the Rangers to a huge 5-4 win in front of 19,001 at Nationwide Arena.
The theme following the game for the Blue Jackets was their nervousness in the third. They admitted playing a good first 40, only to let the game get away from them. They acknowledged playing again in less than 24 hours is an opportunity to put this one away quickly. They need to. Another division opponent awaits them.
CBJ – Markus Nutivaara (2) assisted by Josh Anderson
CBJ – Cam Atkinson (19) assisted by Sam Gagner and Nick Foligno
NYR – Oscar Lindberg (1) assisted by Michael Grabner and Nick Holden
CBJ – Scott Hartnell (10) assisted by Sam Gagner
CBJ – Lukas Sedlak (4) assisted by Scott Hartnell and Jack Johnson
NYR – Michael Grabner (17) unassisted
NYR – Adam Clendening (1) assisted by J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes
NYR – Adam Clendening (2) assisted by Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast
NYR – Michael Grabner (18) unassisted
THW Three Stars
First: Michael Grabner (2 goals)
Second: Adam Clendening (2 goals)
Third: Scott Hartnell (goal, assist)
Philadelphia Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena, 6:00 PM EST on Sunday, Jan. 8
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and CSN Philadelphia
2016-17 Meeting: First meeting of the season
Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers
Madison Square Garden, 7:00 PM EST on Friday, Jan. 13
TV Broadcast Channels: Sportsnet Ontario and MSG Network
2016-17 Meeting: First meeting of season