Rangers searching for energy in tilt vs. Blue Jackets
As electric as their win over the Dallas Stars was, the New York Rangers could not quite deliver the same energy Sunday.
On Monday, they will attempt to avoid consecutive regulation losses for the first time in well over a month when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Rangers are 14-4-3 since losing three straight to Anaheim, Edmonton and New Jersey back on Nov. 23-28. After K’Andre Miller scored with 0.2 seconds left in regulation and fellow defenseman Adam Fox scored 1:16 into overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 home win over Dallas, New York had gained at least one point in seven straight games (5-0-2) before a lackluster 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.
The Rangers also played without Chris Kreider for the second straight game due to an upper-body injury and have also been dealing with a stomach bug for the past week. Kreider is not expected to play Monday.
“The energy level didn’t look great, so whether it’s (the stomach bug) or not, I don’t know,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said. “I’m not going to yell at them, scream at them with what’s going on. We were hoping they were going to have some good jump.
“Look, it was a pretty even game. They got one bounce they beat us to. It wasn’t awful, but we expect better from our group.”
Artemi Panarin scored the lone goal for the Rangers, who took 39 shots on goal, marking their sixth straight game with at least 30. New York was 0-for-2 on the power play and is 0-for-11 on the man advantage in its past four games.
“We did not play at our level tonight,” Panarin said. “We just have to recover somehow, mentally, for [Monday].”
Columbus owns the fewest points in the Eastern Conference and is seeking its fourth winning streak of the season. Since its last winning streak, which was back in early December, the Blue Jackets are 3-12-0 in their past 15 games.
On Saturday, the Blue Jackets stopped a 10-game road losing streak by getting a big night from Patrik Laine in a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Laine, who had not scored in his previous nine games, recorded his 10th career hat trick, scoring two goals in the first period and another in the second.
“Before tonight, we haven’t been able to score too many goals, but I feel like this game was a step in the right direction for us,” Laine said. “We weren’t forcing it at all. We were just taking what they were giving us. Happy that we got those three goals.”
In producing his best game of the season, Laine also showed plenty of chemistry with linemate Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau had two assists as he set up Laine’s first and third goals, marking his first two assists since Dec. 31.
Columbus has scored 109 goals, the lowest total in the Eastern Conference, and is seeking a second win over a divisional playoff contender this month. On Jan. 7, the Blue Jackets earned a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes when Kirill Marchenko recorded his first career hat trick and scored in the shootout.
–Field Level Media