Sharp goaltending, fast paced action, and frequent use of special teams marked this game, as the Rangers topped Columbus on the road to extend their win streak further. Both teams used powerplays to swing the momentum in their favor but ultimately it was the Rangers who were able to keep up the pressure, responding to Nick Foligno’s game-tying goal with an excellent marker from Jimmy Vesey.
Antti Raanta had a 30 save game, easily matching Sergei Bobrovsky and coming up big in the last minute of the game to secure the Rangers’s lead while CBJ had the extra man. Ultimately it was a solid performance, the kind of game you like to see from your team on the road, and two big points against a divisional rival in a crucial race to the playoffs.
BLUE JACKETS 1 RANGERS 0
Brandon Saad receives a long stretch pass towards the end of a powerplay midway through the first period and provides a slick setup for Dubinsky to finish. He tips the puck into the zone at the blueline and then goes to collect it down behind the net, slipping a back-pass to Brandon Dubinsky, who’s crashing the net behind him. Pretty tough shot for Raanta to save given how in close it was; it would’ve been nice to have seen the Rangers give Dubi some trouble in front of the net, but the whole thing took place on a quick transition at the end of a powerplay so I’m not complaining.
BLUE JACKETS 1 RANGERS 1
Excellent PK pressure by JT Miller and Kevin Hayes helps set up this short-handed goal from Dan Girardi. Miller is causing some trouble along the left halfboards, drawing the attention of multiple Blue Jackets, when he slips the puck into the slot for Kevin Hayes. Hayes, realizing that his opportunities are going to be limited by the Columbus defenders closing in on him drops in back for Dan Girardi, who lets the shot fly to knot the game at 1.
BLUE JACKETS 1 RANGERS 2
Kevin Hayes with a monster play to help the Rangers get up a goal on the Jackets. Not a lot to say here other than that it’s an exceptional individual effort from Hayes – he steals the puck at the redline, goes straight to the net, and puts some nifty moves on the goaltender before slotting it home to gain the lead for the Rangers.
BLUE JACKETS 2 RANGERS 2
Columbus ties up the game here at 2 apiece with a goal from Nick Foligno. Savard skates the puck behind the net, passes it off to Foligno, who centers it in close in front of the net. The puck hits a Rangers and the game is back to being tied.
BLUE JACKETS 2 RANGERS 3
What a goal from Jimmy Vesey! Derek Stepan makes the play inside his own blueline to set up Vesey, flipping the puck to him as he skates down the wing through the neutral zone. Vesey cues up the shot and puts it on net as he skates down around the bottom of the circle, beating Bobrovsky clean.
Bear in mind that this is all situations, so you can see where the pace of the game ebbed and flowed with the penalties. The Rangers stagnated towards the end of the second, but we can see in the third they had a real solid push that culminated in Vesey’s goal. Obviously at the very end you can see where Columbus had the goalie pulled, so the Jackets ended up a little bit ahead of the Rangers, but on the whole I’d say they did a good job keeping pace.
That ability to keep pace with good teams, whether it involves grabbing the momentum on a powerplay or generating it 5v5, is going to be crucial as we make it through the back half of the season towards the playoff push. Hopefully AV can make the kinds of minor adjustments on defense to really get the most out of this team, so that they can play this way night in, night out. If he does, we may see some good hockey from the Rangers as we prepare for spring.