Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a pair of third period goals to erase a 1-0 deficit as the New York Rangers were downed by the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1. The Rangers actually played a pretty good game, but a pair of miscues in the third wound up being their downfall. That and a hot goalie who stopped 31 of 32 shots.
The story was really Matiss Kivlenieks. The Rangers got a solid amount of quality chances in the first two periods, but it was Kivlenieks that stood tall and kept the Jackets in it. It is worth noting that both of Columbus’ third period goals, while a direct result of miscues, was a step backwards in defensive zone coverage. On both, the Rangers’ blue liners were backed up/backing up way too far.
Rangers 1, Jackets 0
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 20, 2020
Brady Skjei, out of the box and with the snipe.
Jackets 1, Rangers 1
— NHL (@NHL) January 20, 2020
This looked to just be a miscue by Artemi Panarin, overskating the puck. That led to Bjorkstrand collecting the puck with room. Jacob Trouba got caught between going after the puck and backing up on Bjorkstrand, which was a tough call to make. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but I’ve been preaching that the Rangers need to step up before the top of the circle, and Trouba was at the faceoff dot when Bjorkstrand let it loose.
Jackets 2, Rangers 1
BAR DOWN FOR THE WIN pic.twitter.com/MxvnkHIctW
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) January 20, 2020
This was a very ill-timed change by Ryan Strome, which turned a non-rush into an odd-man rush and a goal. With the third man uncovered, it left the defense scrambling to cover the odd-man rush, and Bjorkstrand took advantage. That said, the same defensive issues for the first goal apply here. There is very little gap control on the entry, with Trouba and Skjei at least two stick lengths off the rushers, giving them again to the top of the circle before stepping up. This was a step backwards from the better neutral and defensive zone play we’ve seen in the past.
The Rangers wound up with a 60-52 shot attempt advantage in this one, but based off the shot map they weren’t generating too many Grade-A chances. Kivlenieks still made some great saves –that pad stop on Panarin in the third stands out– and kept them in it, but this was certainly a game where Columbus’ defensive system kept the Rangers from their usual high quality standard.
From a shot attempt standpoint, the Rangers were pretty solid, as mentioned above. When factoring in quality, the Blue Jackets really forced the Rangers into their system, with most Blueshirts in the “dull” section. Regardless, there’s nothing really glaring here. Columbus is good.
The Rangers have one more game against the Isles on Tuesday before nine days off for their bye week and the All Star Game. This is one of those games you just move on from, a rather forgettable game that no one will remember come next month.