In a drama-filled game, the Rangers and their Metropolitan Division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets, provided the most enthralling game of the season for the Blueshirts faithful. How would Peter Laviolette’s group respond to a situation they had seldom been in during the season? As it turns out, the Rangers were quite comfortable playing in the face of defeat late on.
New York started on the wrong foot when they gave up a goal to Justin Danforth. With assists from Erik Gudbransen and Zach Werenski, it was a beautiful tip that the Rangers could not have done more with once it happened. Jonathan Quick had no shot on this one, as he just had to watch the puck flutter past him and into the cage. It was a weak defensive performance on this play in front of the goalie, but that would not be the case for the foreseeable future.
Blake Wheeler would pick up his third point as a member of the New York Rangers when he threw the puck across to Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson set up the goalscorer for the team, Chris Kreider. He nabbed his 10th of the season and tied the game up at one in the first period. And we would stay that way going into the first intermission.
In the second period, the Rangers would grab the lead. Artemi Panarin would extend his point streak to 14 games with an assist when he found Vincent Trocheck. Trocheck would find the open man at the far post, Alexis Lafreniere, and this will not be the last time we mention the Quebecois winger.
That lead didn’t stay around for long, as Adam Fantilli found the net less than a minute later, assisted by Dmitri Voronkov. That tied it up at two, and less than 30 seconds later, Gudbranson would find Alexandre Texier, who set up Sean Kuraly, who scored before crashing into the post. That made it 3-2 Blue Jackets, and the Rangers were once again going to be tasked with chasing.
Will Cuylle thought he had tied the game when he threw a shot at the net that seemed to squeak in, but the referees determined that the play was dead before it was jammed home under the pad of Elvis Merzlikins. After a lengthy review, the Rangers were disappointed by the call from the situation room in Toronto, but they had to find a way home.
Ryan Lindgren would be on the receiving end of a nasty hit in the early third period. He would not return to the game, and a five-minute major for boarding was awarded. Ultimately, it was reduced to a two-minute penalty, and the Rangers found themselves with a 5-on-3 that they could not convert. Time was ticking away, the manpower was dwindling, and Jonathan Quick was the only reason the Rangers were in this game.
It looked like defeat, but the Rangers pulled the rabbit out of the hat. Panarin gets on the board again when he and Kreider combined to find Alexis Lafreniere, who hammered home the puck with 13 seconds left to tie the game up and force the game to OT. Lafreniere continues his outstanding season with the Blueshirts, and Artemi Panarin embodies the anti-Samson with the shaved head.
An action-packed overtime did not settle the debate, so we went to the shootout. Panarin had a nice move but was unsuccessful; Mika Zibanejad couldn’t convert in his 500th game as a Ranger. Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau could not convert for the Jackets either. Lafreniere tallied the first one in the shootout, and Texier couldn’t get the puck past Quick as the Rangers pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.