Rangers get rude awakening, fall to Blue Jackets 5-3

NHL: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

When it’s not your night, it is really not your night. The New York Rangers dominated play for 50 minutes, but as we all know, hockey is a 60-minute game and those ten minutes proved too much for the Blueshirts to come back from in a 5-3 loss in Columbus to the Blue Jackets.

The defeat now evens the Rangers record to 1-1-0 on the season.

Related: Ryan Lindgren out with injury

Blue Jackets 5 vs New York Rangers 3

NHL: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The game started for the Blue Jackets with a fantastic chance off the rush as the third overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft Adam Fantilli got to a rebound off an Erik Gudbranson shot but Igor Shesterkin stood tall and made a good save early in the game.

The Rangers would respond almost instantly as Adam Fox would make a quick D-to-D pass to his partner Erik Gustafsson who looks to make the extra pass, but in doing so, banks one off the skate of a Blue Jacket and it finds its way in the back of the net beating Elvis Merzlikins to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, 50 seconds into the game.

It was the first five minutes that were controlled by the Rangers. The team continued to clog up the neutral zone and did a great job of retrieving pucks in the offensive zone.

Five minutes after the opening goal, a beautiful passing display from Alexis Lafreniere and Erik Gustafsson found Filip Chytil off the rush, and he tipped in, but the play was determined offside.

Almost immediately after the disallowed goal, the second line continued to impress. Lafreniere with a beautiful spin-around pass to Panarin who makes a fantastic move but is stopped by Merzlikins.

After all the Rangers’ pressure, it was the Blue Jackets taking advantage of a turnover. Zac Jones, who is in the lineup for an injured Ryan Lindgren, couldn’t control a pass from Braden Schneider and it went right to Krill Marchenko, who found Johnny Gaudreau leading to a stop by Shesterkin. However, Boone Jenner got to the rebound and slid it into an empty net to tie the game at 1. 

New York responded quickly as Mika Zibanejad broke up a pass with his hand and became wide open on the near side circle rifling one past Merzlikins, BUT, the play was determined to be offside and for the second time in the opening period; the Rangers have their second goal wiped away.

The strangeness would only continue in the first frame. K’Andre Miller gave the puck away and it went to Patrick Laine, who fired a shot that Shesterkin stops 90% of the time, but it trickled to the goal line. Jacob Trouba made an incredible play sliding through the crease to keep the puck from crossing the goal line. The play was ruled a goal on the ice, but for the third time in the period, a goal was disallowed.

After an Adam Fox tripping penalty on Johnny Gaudreau, the Rangers blocked a few shots on the penalty kill but got caught standing still. Gaudreau found Jenner standing wide open in front, who deflected it past Shesterkin for his second goal of the period, putting the Rangers down 2-1 at the break.

The second period was back and forth through the first 13 minutes with the Rangers controlling the play. That was until Kaapo Kakko tried to play 3-on-3 hockey in the offensive zone and had a bad turnover at the point. It led to Blue Jackets’ pressure and a shot from Jake Bean that would be deflected by Jenner who completed the hat trick.

The goal sparked a brief onslaught by the Jackets, who now had a 3-1 lead and feeling it. They would get their payoff just 1:37 later. David Jiricek netted his first NHL goal on a rocket wrist shot. The first real clean shot that beat Shesterkin, giving the Blue Jackets a commanding 4-1 lead.

In another strange twist that only this game could have, Spencer Martin would start the third period in goal for Columbus as Elvis Merzlikins had to leave with an illness.

The Rangers did everything in their power to get back in the game late, out-shooting the Blue Jackets 14-0 through the first 15 minutes and it would lead to a tally. Erik Gustafsson with a great keep at the blue line fed Vincent Trocheck, who dropped it off to Will Cuylle. The rookie rifled home his first career NHL goal.

Although Gustafsson looked shaky defensively, he was one of the Rangers’ better offensive players.

The good times would only last so long as they got desperate for offense late in the game. Justin Danforth and Kent Johnson sprung a 2-on-0 with the Rangers D-men pitching, and it ended up in the back of the net to seal the deal on the game.

Chris Kreider would get his third goal of the season on a late power-play goal, but it was too little too late for the Blueshirts.

Rangers Notes

  • Igor Shesterkin had a rough night stopping only 16 of 21 shots
  • Will Cuylle earned his first NHL goal (and point) in his 6th career game
  • Adam Fox notched two assists
  • Jimmy Vesey recorded an assist in his season debut
  • Zac Jones was a -2 in his season debut

The Rangers will be back in action Monday night at Madison Square Garden for the home opener against the Arizona Coyotes at 7 p.m. ET.

Steven Pappas is a North Jersey native who works as a news anchor and reporter at WHAM-13 in Rochester,... More about Steven Pappas

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