Three Things: Looking For A Spark, Another Blown Lead, Third Period Stand Falls Short

By Will Chase on November 12, 2023 at 10:39 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Elvis Merzlikins reacts after allowing a game tying goal with eleven seconds remains in the third period against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

That concludes a weekend back-to-back.

On the heels of Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, the Columbus Blue Jackets were in Madison Square Garden, desperate to grab two points against the New York Rangers on Sunday night.

And they were seconds from doing so.

Alexis Lafreniere had two goals, including the tying goal with 11 seconds left in the third period, and Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist as the Rangers won 4-3 in a shootout.

Lafreniere is on a four-game point streak (three goals, four assists).

Artemi Panarin had two assists. With a point in all 14 Rangers games this season, Panarin (eight goals, 16 assists) tied former Ranger Rod Gilbert for the longest point streak in Rangers history, dating back to 1972-73.

Erik Gustafsson, Blake Wheeler, and Vincent Trocheck each had an assist. Gustafsson is on a four-game point streak (one goal, five assists). Trocheck is on a four-game point streak (three goals, four assists).

Justin Danforth, Adam Fantilli, and Sean Kuraly all scored for Columbus. Fantilli is on a career-long three-game point streak (two goals, one assist).

Erik Gudbranson had two assists. Zach Werenski, Dmitri Voronkov, and Alexandre Texier also picked up assists. Voronkov is on his first career three-game point streak (three assists).

Jonathan Quick made 26 saves, while Elvis Merzlikins made 37 saves.

Igor Shesterkin missed his fourth straight game with soreness. Jack Roslovic played in his 400th career game.

Looking For A Spark

With the Blue Jackets mired in a 1-5-3 stretch entering Sunday's play, head coach Pascal Vincent made line changes, trying to find a spark.

Arguably his best line going of late has been Dmitri Voronkov - Fantilli - Kirill Marchenko, and they started as the first line. That trio had one of the better — and only — first-period scoring chances.

Johnny Gaudreau was on the third line with Cole Sillinger and Roslovic.

Another Blown Lead

Danforth broke a scoreless first-period tie with his fourth goal of the season at 16:26.

As they've had to do almost all season, Columbus was forced to play catchup when the Rangers tied the game on Kreider's goal at 18:46 of the first period. Despite the Blue Jackets holding a 10-1 shot advantage in the second period, New York took their first lead of the game at 11:17 on Lafreniere's goal.

Two goals 19 seconds apart from Fantilli and Kuraly put the Jackets back in the lead in the second period. Kuraly scored the greasiest of goals and came up in pain after an awkward fall.

Columbus was 11 seconds away from a win before Lafreniere's tying goal forced overtime.

Including tonight, the Blue Jackets have led in their previous four games and are 0-2-2 in that stretch.

Third Period Stand

It was the second-best power play versus the third-best penalty kill.

The kill won.

Entering the day, New York came in with one of the more potent power plays in the NHL (35.7%, 2nd), while Columbus came in with the third-best kill (88.4%). Neither power play could convert, and the Blue Jackets killed three opportunities, including a big 5-on-3 opportunity in the third period.

Kuraly was given two minors, one for boarding and the other for roughing after he caught Charlie Lindgren with a hit at the beginning of the third period at 1:30. The roughing call was tacked on when Nick Bonino came to the defense of his teammate and got into it with Kuraly. The 5-on-3 happened when Danforth went to the box for high-sticking at 2:22.

Officials initially gave Kuraly a major for boarding but reduced it to a minor after review. 

The Blue Jackets were outshot 17-3 in the third period and were being outshot 15-1 at one point. The Rangers had 35 total shot attempts to the Blue Jackets' 5 in all situations in the third period.

You're playing with fire in a situation like that, and once again, the Blue Jackets failed to finish.

First Meeting With Pittsburgh

The Blue Jackets return to Nationwide Arena to face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 7:00 p.m. ET.