The New York Rangers were not the ones to end the Columbus Blue Jackets’ winning streak that fell just short of history.
They were, however, able to provide an epic come from behind victory that no doubt will make the MSG Network airwaves come the summer months as part of the “Best Of 2016-17” series.
For the second consecutive game, the Rangers had two players score multiple goals, and Michael Grabner was one of them once again. The ex-Islander/Canuck/Maple Leaf put in the game winner with just over 16 seconds to go in regulation, and the Rangers came back from a 4-1 deficit to top the Metropolitan Division-leading Blue Jackets 5-4.
The Rangers (28-13-1) were denied a chance to end Columbus’s renowned winning streak when the Blue Jackets (27-7-4) feel to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, and it looked like the Jackets were poised to begin another in front of the home fans at Nationwide Arena. Markus Nutivaara scored his second goal of the season within the game’s first two minutes, and Cam Atkinson scored 10 seconds after Ryan McDonagh was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking. Oscar Lindberg, off an assist from Grabner, was able to score his first of the season, but Scott Hartnell made it 3-1 headed into the first break.
After getting outshot 15-7 in the first period, the sluggish Rangers start carried over into the second, as Lukas Sediak scored three minutes to make 4-1. The Rangers were able to cut the lead down to 4-2 on Grabner’s first goal, but a new Columbus winning streak was in the making at 4-2.
Then came the third period, a.k.a. the Adam Clendening/Michael Grabner power hour.
Entering his 11th game of the season with a pair of goals in his NHL career, the 24-
year old Clendening matched that total within the 20 minutes, putting one in the back of the net for the first time since March 24 with Edmonton. With Clendening knotting things up, both teams exchanged opportunities, but neither could break through. Finally, the speedy Grabner broke away and put the game winner in the back of the net, setting off a raucous New York celebration, and allowing the Rangers to escape with the 5-4 win. They’ll face off with Columbus three more times this season, including a matchup later this month at Madison Square Garden.
This game also the marked the Rangers’ last before a de facto “bye week”, one that will now stretch until January 13, when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden (7:00, MSG).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490