The Blue Jackets were looking to build on two franchise records heading into the final game of the regular season series with the New York Rangers - 1) a nine-game winning streak and 2) an eight-game road winning streak. A familiar feel took hold to the game, but the Rangers stormed back late in the game and sealed the victory in OT.
The opening period seemed all too familiar. Like most of the recent games, the opponent of the Blue Jackets came out dictating the play early, piling up six of the first seven shots of the game. Less than six minutes into the game, the Rangers would find the back of the net. On a rush into the zone, Kevin Hayes fired a shot that didn't have much on it and was knocked down in the faceoff circle. Martin St. Louis skated in and then fired a wrister past Bobrovsky. 1-0 Rangers.
The Jackets then reeled off nine consecutive shots, including two disjointed power plays. Late in the period, Matt Calvert hounded Ryan McDonagh in the Rangers zone. Matty Hustle poked it clean from McDonagh, and Jeremy Morin scooped it up. Morin skated to Lundqvist's left and as the goalie went spread eagle, he fired the puck to the middle of the crease from the goal line. Calvert was there to deposit the puck into the open net to tie the game 1-1.
Less than a minute into the second, the Jackets got caught napping a bit. Dan Girardi got a clean look from low on the right and fired a snap shot past Bob. It was Derek Stepan's 39th assist of the season - more on him to come.
After that opening shift, Columbus was able to gain control of the second period. The PK killed of a couple of penalties in the middle of the period, and then "the kid" line struck again. Behind the net, Marko Dano was able to kick the puck around the boards to
Kevin Connauton Alexander Wennberg to Lundqvist's right. Connauton fed Anisimov in the high slot. As Arty was gathering the puck, he did a little drag around St. Louis, gathered himself, and shot the puck on net. Lundqvist made the initial stop but Marko Dano batted the puck out of the air for the tying goal. This Dano kid can play and has a nose for the puck.
There was some good back and forth to start the period, but the CBJ would strike first. At the 8:14 mark, Brandon Dubinsky put the Jackets on top 3-2. Foligno entered the zone on the right, and Boone Jenner skated hard to the net as the forwards were in the middle of a line change. Dubinsky followed Jenner to the front of the net as Foligno began skating cross ice to his left. The most recent hat-trick artist then sent a pass "against the grain" to Dubinsky in front of Lundqvist. Dubi wasted no time putting the puck in the back of the net for his 12th of the season.
It appeared the Jackets were on their way to a 10th straight win, but from that point on they mostly went into a turtle. The Rangers ended up winning the shot battle 15-6 in the 3rd period. King Henrik vacated his crease with just over a minute left and the Rangers went 6-5. As the clock ticked under a minute, Bobrovsky made a ridiculous save sprawling from his right to his left and robbing New York of the tying goal. Unfortunately, the Rangers used the extra man to their advantage with 28 seconds left. They simply made several quick passes in a row, and Kreider found the extra man on the door step as Derek Stepan fired home the tying goal into a partially open net.
The Rangers continued their domination into OT, piling up a 6-2 shot advantage. As the clock ticked to less than a minute, Dalton Prout committed a brutal turnover. Kreider fired a shot and Bob gave up the rebound right in front of him in the slot. Neither Bob nor any of the defenders went for the puck and Stepan skated in and grabbed control. He went to the left and then swung around to his forehand and ripped the game-winning goal past Bob.
Rangers win 3-2
This was the hottest team in the NHL against the best team in the NHL. The Rangers are on their way to the Presidents Trophy and they came in waves of speed tonight. The Jackets showed they could play right there with them.
-Holy crap Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik was on point tonight. Just have to tip your hat sometimes. Ditto Stepan.
-Bob was just as stellar on the other end. What an evening of goaltending.
-Dubinsky and Calvert were classic Dubi and Matty Hustle
Bottom of the Barrel
-Uh, really the whole defensive corps was not very good. Turnovers, poor exit passes, penalties.
-I thought Johansen was inconsistent and Moore got under his skin.
-Bob deserved better. See first point.
It was a loser point, one of just five for the CBJ this season. Can't win them all in extra time. 10-game point streak, at least.
Up next are the Tank-a-licious Maple Leafs on Wednesday and the equally tank-tastic Buffalo Sabres on Friday. Toronto is a 7:30 start while Buffalo opening faceoff is at 7:00 for Fan Appreciation Night.