Entering Nationwide Arena in Columbus last night, the Rangers boasted a three-game road winning streak, totaling 14 goals scored with a paltry four against.
But John Tortorella’s young Blue Jackets — full of vim, vigor and vitality — figured to provide a terrific test for Alain Vigneault‘s surging Blueshirts.
Well, they sure did — with a shorthanded, game-winning goal late in the third period that led to the 4-2 decision. If nothing else it leads to what the Rangers hope will be a welcome return to The Garden on Sunday night to face Florida.
That said the Friday night loss must give the Rangers high command pause and cause to reflect. After all, the fast-climbing Jackets are now tailgating Lundqvist, Inc.
Right now, John Tortorella’s sizzling sextet has played three fewer games than New York and is only six points behind.
Hey, a Jackets-Rangers playoff is not out of the question; and wouldn’t that be fun.
No fun, however, was the manner in which Alain Vigneault’s third period power play not only was powerless but allowed the Matt Calvert shorthanded score that sealed the deal.
Here’s The Maven’s analysis:
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- THE LAW OF AVERAGES: Sooner or later a club will lose a game so three wins out of four games — six of eight possible points — on the road for the Rangers ain’t bad.
- BAD ACCELERATION: Against Vancouver, the Blueshirts could afford a slow start because Henrik Lundqvist stole the first period. Against Columbus, the slow start put A.V. & Company in a difficult hole.
- THE SHORTHANDER: Even though the Seventh Avenue Skaters dug themselves out of the 0-2 hole and tied the count at 2-2, they couldn’t capitalize on their third period power play and relinquished the decisive shorthand tally.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- GRABBING GOALS: Michael Grabner‘s orbiting stats continue to amaze. At the end of the game in which he lit another red light, his eleven even strength goals and plus-minus rating of plus 17 leads the NHL. Talk about a pleasant surprise.
- THE BRADY EFFECT: Rookie defenseman Brady Skjei continues to impress with his puck movement. Exhibit A was his splendid third period cross-ice pass to Mika Zibanejad that led to the 2-2 game-tying tally. He logged 19:34 of ice time, displaying poise and vision.
- COMEBACK-ABILITY: Despite a transcontinental trek across Western Canada, the Pacific Northwest and, finally, Ohio, the Blueshirts revealed enough grit to execute a comeback from two goals down against one of the league’s hottest outfits.
WHAT THEY SAID:
ALAIN VIGNEAULT: “We chased the game a lot and didn’t start off with the puck very much.”
RYAN MCDONAGH: “Our club lacked the jump we had in the other games.”
OBSERVATIONS: There’s nothing to be alarmed about. On this night the foe was more opportunistic, going up two-zip and closing the count with the shorthander. With a chance to exhale on Saturday and return home on Sunday, the Rangers energy should be replenished.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Panthers come to Seventh Avenue on Sunday night. Complete coverage starts at 6:30 PM on MSG.