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Surging Rangers top Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS - The Columbus Blue Jackets don't have a captain, but Brandon Dubinsky is the de facto leader in the dressing room. After a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday extended the Blue Jackets' losing streak to five games, he has seen enough.

"It's embarrassing. We don't have enough effort," he said. "We talk about effort in here a lot. We talked about it before the season started and we talked about it throughout the games. We simply didn't have enough effort.

"It doesn't matter about shots. It doesn't matter about X's and O's and what we do systematically. We need to just put our head down and bear down and work. The work ethic isn't there. It should be the easiest thing to correct. … We're all in the NHL here. We should be here because of hard work and effort, and second effort and third effort."

The Rangers won the game by outscoring Columbus 2-1 and outshooting the Blue Jackets 21-10 in the second period.

"They were in the box a lot. That's why we got so many shots," said Rangers forward Carl Hagelin, who scored twice for New York, now 8-8-0 after a 2-6-0 start.

Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who sat the last two games for Columbus to work on some technique problems, looked like his old self in the middle period but still trailed by a goal after 40 minutes.

Columbus has been outscored 18-9 in the second compared to playing even in the first (10-10) and third (16-16). The third-period total is skewed because the Blue Jackets have allowed five empty-net goals, including one by Ryan McDonagh with 54 seconds that ensured the Rangers' fifth win in six games.

"Before anyone asks any question, I want to say that was embarrassing hockey," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "Embarrassing hockey. To me that's losing hockey. We got exactly what we deserved. It could have been 7-1 going into the third period. Our goalie was great.

"Not enough battle, not enough compete. It's as simple as that."

Hagelin opened the scoring as the teams exchanged goals in the first period. He had what proved to be the game-winner in the second as New York carried a 3-2 lead into the third.

"I liked the way we played the second period," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "We played fast. We played north-south. We spent most of the time in their end other than a couple of breakdowns."

Ryan Callahan gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 4:17 after a double tip carried McDonagh's shot from the point to the back of the net. The puck went off the stick of Mats Zuccarello before Callahan got the second deflection from the edge of the crease while fending Jack Johnson.

New York made it 3-1 at 12:44, but again Bobrovsky couldn't be faulted. Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin lost the puck near the left side of the goal and Hagelin reached for it. But Columbus forward Mark Letestu was there as well; as he tried to clear the puck, he put into his own net after Hagelin appeared to tap his stick.

Hagelin was credited with the unassisted goal. He has four goals and two assists in the past four games.

Only Bobrovsky's goaltending kept Columbus in the game.

"Thank God for Bob," Dubinsky said of Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves. "It could have been 10-1 before we even had the opportunity to come back in the third period."

Columbus made it a one-goal game 48 seconds later. Ryan Murray fired a shot from above the left circle, and with Dubinsky and Nick Foligno setting screens, the puck filtered past Cam Talbot, who made 32 saves. James Wisniewski was given an assist for his 200th NHL point.

The game had many subplots because of the number of players competing against their former club, most for the first time.

Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Marian Gaborik had not played the Rangers since a pair of trades during the past 16 months brought them to Columbus. On the other side, Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore played against the Blue Jackets for the first time since the Rangers acquired them in April in the deal that sent Gaborik to Columbus.

Also, two defensemen -- Fedor Tyutin for Columbus and the Rangers' Anton Stralman - faced their former teams again. Add the fact that former Columbus coach Scott Arniel is now the associate head coach for the Rangers and it made for one of the most anticipated games on the Blue Jackets' home schedule.

Of course, many fans bought tickets months ago hoping to see Rangers forward Rick Nash in his first appearance since Columbus traded him in July 2012, but he missed his 13th straight game because of a concussion.

Tyutin scored at 17:31 of the first period to counter Hagelin's goal 4:16 into the game, but the Rangers took control in the second period.

"When you have a four-game losing streak you've got to have the energy," Dubinsky said. "You've got to find the energy, find the effort. I don't understand why it's not there. It's flat out embarrassing for us, for our fans, for the organization."

It's a far different feeling for the Rangers, who have reached .500 for the first time this season and have allowed two or fewer goals in nine straight games.

"We wanted to play better than we did," at the start of the season, Hagelin said. "We know we should be .500 at least. It's good to be there. Now it's time to start climbing."

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