NEW YORK - Things were going well for the Blue Jackets on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Their goalie was making great saves to bail them out when things went wrong. Their offense awoke after 20 minutes of slumber, and dominated play in the second period. They had a 2-0 lead, and Artemi Panarin finally got his second goal of the season, after 10 straight games of frustrating near-misses.
Even after Michael Grabner scored to make it 2-1 in the second, the Blue Jackets didn't show any sign of cracking under the pressure of trying to close out a hot team, in its own building, looking for its fourth straight win.
Then, the third period happened. Then three penalties for the Blue Jackets happened. Then three power-play goals for New York happened.
That was all she wrote, as the saying goes.
In their first game without Matt Calvert - not to mention Cam Atkinson and Lukas Sedlak - the Blue Jackets let one slip right through their fingers in a game that left coach John Tortorella unsure of how it all went wrong in the third and upset about the penalties that led to those Rangers power plays.
"We took stupid penalties," he said. "You don't win hockey games taking penalties like that in the third period."
Here's how it all unfolded:
(Corsi, scoring chance data per NaturalStatTrick.com)
Goals: CBJ - None; NYR - None;
Shots: Rangers 10, Blue Jackets 4
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Rangers 61.5% (16-10), Blue Jackets 38.5% (10-16)
Scoring chances: Rangers 8, Blue Jackets 5
High-danger chances: Rangers 3, Blue Jackets 1
The rundown: It started with a quick turnover, and a steal of the puck by New York's Jimmey Vesey.
After skating it into a breakaway on the first shift of the game, Vesey was denied by Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who made a strong save to prevent the game's first goal just 36 seconds after puck drop.
It was a sign of what was to come for Columbus, which struggled to get possession of the puck and had to work hard to defend against odd-man rushes for much of the period. It was a tough period for Blue Jackets defensemen who bobbled the puck into giveaways multiple times. Bobrovsky was there as a safety net each time, making some highlight-worthy saves with the glove.
He also denied Vesey again, on a backhand, and did some great work to help thwart a Rangers power play.
At the other end of the rink, New York's Henrik Zetterberg only had to make four saves. One of them, however, clanged off his mask after a wrist shot by his former Rangers teammate, Brandon Dubinsky.
That was one of the Jackets' best scoring chances.
Goals: CBJ - Artemi Panarin (Zach Werenski, Seth Jones), 0:38; Josh Anderson (Ryan Murray), 4:24; NYR - Michael Grabner (J.T. Miller, Nick Holden), 12:41
Shots: Blue Jackets 10, Rangers 7
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 65.4% (17-9), Rangers 34.6% (9-17)
Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 7, Rangers 7
High-danger chances: Rangers 5, Blue Jackets 3
The rundown: It had been 10 games since Artemi Panarin last scored a goal, also against the Rangers.
That one was a game-winner Oct. 13 at Nationwide Arena. That one was also his only goal of the season, until he got a pass from Werenski in the low slot on the first shift of the second period.
Panarin buried a wrist shot to open the scoring and release the pressure had built up over the past three weeks. Great pass, great shot, nice goal.
About four minutes later, Anderson made it 2-0 with a laser from the lower half of the right circle. Lundqvist left some room on the far side of the net, and Anderson took it, scoring with a hard wrister for his team-leading sixth goal.
Can't forget about "Bob" either. The Jackets' goalie made some more dazzling saves in the second, including one sprawling right pad save to stop what looked like a sure goal by Mats Zuccarello off a 2-on-1 rush.
The Rangers' goal, though, was the highlight play of the period. J.T. Miller, New York's leading scorer, sent the best pass of the game to Grabner with one arm, while falling to the ice in the left-wing circle.
Grabner jammed it through the pads, and it was 2-1.
QUOTE: "That's." - Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella
Goals: CBJ - Oliver Bjorkstrand (Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner), 8:01;; NYR - Kevin Shattenkirk (Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad), 5:10; Chris Kreider (Pavel Buchnevich, Zibandejad) 9:40; Buchnevich (Zibanejad, Shattenkirk), 11:27; Grabner (Jesper Fast, Ryan McDonagh), 19:11 EN
Shots: Blue Jackets 11, Rangers 9
Shot-Attempts percentage (Corsi 5v5): Blue Jackets 71.4% (20-8), 28. % (8-20)
Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 13, Rangers 3
Overall Corsi: Blue Jackets 58.7% (47-33), Rangers 41.3% (33-47)
Overall 5v5 Scoring chances: Blue Jackets 25, Rangers 18
Overall High-Danger chances: Blue Jackets 11, Rangers 10
The rundown: It started with a high-sticking infraction levied to Panarin, which led to the first of three Rangers power-play goals.
It got progressively worse from there, except for the brief time (1:39) the Blue Jackets led, 3-2, after Bjorkstrand's goal.
Dalpe was hit hard in the offensive zone and didn't like it. He got up, located Steven Kampfer, and gave him an elbow to the face. The officials saw his retaliation, and called a penalty. Most of those in the arena saw it, and began to shout. John Tortorella saw it, and couldn't believe it.
"That's a penalty," he said afterward. "It's a penalty. You don't give them an opportunity to make a call at that time."
The Blue Jackets did, and paid for it.
Kreider scored to tie it 3-3, and New York went ahead 4-3 on Buchnevich's power-play goal at 11, which capped a man-advantage created when David Savard was called for tripping Grabner at 11:15.
QUOTE: "Couldn't kill one off. When you take stupid penalties, you don't kill them off. - Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella on Columbus allowing goals on three Rangers power plays.