New York Rangers Beat Columbus for Sixth Straight Win
The Washington Capitals lead the NHL’s Metropolitan Division— and the entire Eastern Conference– with 84 points, but there are three teams battling for second place and a chance to be in position to challenge the Capitals should they falter. Washington had won six straight and eight of 10 after beating Anaheim on February 11th. The Caps are on their bye week and will be back in action at Detroit on February 18th. Meanwhile, two of Washington’s closest pursuers faced each other on February 13th as the Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the New York Rangers.
Columbus came into the game with 75 points, tied for second in the Metropolitan with Pittsburgh. The Rangers were right behind with 73 points. The Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky got the scoring going with a goal in the first period. The Rangers tied it just 12 seconds into the second period with a short handed goal by Dan Girardi. Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers their first lead of the game at the 4:49 mark of the third period, but Columbus came back to tie it at 2-2 with Nick Foligno’s 19th goal of the season at 11:53. Jimmy Vesey put the Rangers back on top with a goal at 13:28, and New York held on from there to win 3-2 and put the Rangers in a three way tie for 2nd.
Antti Raanta started in goal for New York, giving Henrik Lundqvist (who picked up career win number 400 on February 11th in a win over Colorado) a breather. Raanta had 30 saves, and improved to 11-5 on the season. Having a backup goalie who can play at a high level despite infrequent starts is a bonus for any team looking to go deep in the playoffs, and Raata is filling the bill.
With the victory, the Rangers not only moved into that second place tie, they also at least have kept pace with Washington, matching the Caps with six wins in a row and eight of 10. After a game in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders on the 16th, the Rangers will host the Capitals on February 19th. Columbus will host Toronto on February 15th and Pittsburgh on February 17th.