Bjorkstrand’s pair beats Blueshirts

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The Rangers entered tonight’s contest having won four of their previous five games, including three straight against divisional opponents. But that streak came to an end as Oliver Bjorkstrand capitalized on a Rangers turnover and an odd-man rush to send the MSG faithful home very unhappy.

Brady Skjei – The lone goal of the game for the Blueshirts came in the first period. Just after Skjei exited the penalty box, Jacob Trouba fired a hard pass that missed Skjei, but caromed perfectly off the boards. Skjei got to the puck and hammered it by Matiss Kivlenieks for the defenseman’s seventh goal of the year.

Skjei had a solid game for the Blueshirts, recording five shots, four hits, and a takeaway.

Brendan Lemieux – In his first game back since December 27th, Lemieux played like his usual self. The Colorado native was hard on pucks, grinded in the corners, and wasn’t afraid to mix things up after the whistle. Lemieux would wind up replacing Pavel Buchnevich on the line with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. Having Lemieux back in the lineup certainly gives David Quinn’s squad that physical element they are sometimes lacking.

SHOOT – It looked to me like the Rangers went back to their old habits tonight, passing up a few great chances to get the puck on net. The Blueshirts did have 32 shots against the Columbus netminder, who was making his first professional start. But that number could have easily been closer to 40 had the Rangers taken what was given to them and shot the puck. Is that the only reason why the Blueshirts lost? Certainly not. But when you are forcing passes instead of making the simple play of taking the shot, you don’t end up scoring as much as you could.

Igor Shesterkin – Despite suffering his first NHL loss, the Russian rookie played very well. Shesterkin made 29 saves on 31 Columbus shots, but was left out to dry on both Blue Jackets goals. On the first, the Rangers turned the puck over just inside their blue line, and Bjorkstrand had plenty of time to walk in and snipe it by the glove of Shesterkin. On the second, Ryan Strome makes a brutally bad change that gives Columbus a 3v2 and Bjorkstrand took the open ice and fired one behind Shesterkin. It’s unclear who starts Tuesday’s game against the Islanders, but Shesterkin has certainly had a very strong start to his NHL career.

Next Game: The Rangers play their final game before the All Star break when they host the Islanders on Tuesday night. Puck drops at 7!

LETS GO RANGERS!!