Monday Night was Fan Appreciation Night for Columbus Blue Jackets fans. Nick Foligno responded to his demotion to the fourth line in style.
That is about where the good news ends from game #79 against the New York Rangers.
Four different Rangers scored to lead New York to a playoff-clinching win at Nationwide Arena Monday night. Prior to the game, Jackets coach John Tortorella announced that Joonas Korpisalo would start again in the place of Sergei Bobrovsky. In addition, Jared Boll replaced Scott Hartnell who was made a healthy scratch for the third time this season.
The moves did not pay off for the home team.
Just six minutes in to the game, Chris Kreider followed his own rebound off the rush to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Also early in the game, Cody Goloubef left with an injury and did not return. The Rangers Ryan McDonaugh joined him at the first intermission.
In the second period, Dan Boyle scored 5:28 in from a sharp angle to make it 2-0. The Rangers were controlling much of the game - possession, shots, game flow. Later in the period, captain Nick Foligno scored his 10th of the game on a deflection, his first goal in 16 games. Just after a power play had ended, David Savard came into the offensive zone and ripped a slap shot on net. Foligno deflected the puck past Lundqvist to make it 2-1.
The Rangers responded less than four minutes as Mats Zuccarello scored on a fluky 2-1 rush. Chris Kreider came streaking down the left side and passed it cross-zone to Zuccarello. He appeared to try to send the puck immediately back to Kreider, but it deflected right back to him. Zuccarello then ripped it past Korpisalo to make it 3-1 Rangers.
The Jackets fought back and Nick Foligno scored again to make it a 3-2 hockey game. Ultimately, Derek Stepan would ice it with Korpisalo pulled in the final moments.
FINAL - Rangers 4-2
The win clinched the playoffs for the Rangers, and it looked very apparent that one team was battling for the playoffs and one had been out of such a race for 4+ months.
Three more games for the Jackets. The "game of the year" could come Wednesday when they visit Toronto. Major lottery implications in that one.
Nick Foligno was put on the 4th line and responded with drawing penalties and scoring a couple goals. Maybe Torts will continue with that motivation tactic.
The Jackets do have one more home game - Saturday hosting Chicago, but the team chose this Rangers game for Fan Appreciation Night.
It's almost over, everyone.