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Rangers Rally Falls Short in Loss to Columbus

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers made things interesting in the third period, but ultimately fell, 6-4, to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden.

The loss was the Rangers' fifth in the last six at home.

With the Rangers down 6-0 in the third, Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Kevin Klein scored goals, but Columbus' four-goal second period proved to be enough for the victory.

Columbus led 1-0 after 20 minutes on a goal by Seth Jones. New York had its chances, especially on a power play just 11 seconds into the game. The Blueshirts had the game's first five shots on goal but could not capitalize.

"I liked our first period," said Derek Stepan. "They get a goal, kind of a seeing-eye goal. Hank made some saves for us in the first. We had plenty of looks. We go into the second period - I liked the way we played in the first period."

That changed in the second period. Columbus would score four goals in the middle frame, including two goals in the first 3:42 that ended Henrik Lundqvist's night.

"I know I need to be better. That third goal is a killer," said Lundqvist, who allowed three goals on 16 shots in the no decision.

Antti Raanta, who had been out since Jan. 14 with an injury, took over and allowed two more goals in the second and another in the third. He finished with seven saves in the loss.
 
"We have to understand it's such a big learning moment for us," Stepan said. "Teams are just too good to take a 10-minute stretch like that. You're going to get killed every time. We've got to stop doing that … They made us pay in that 10 minutes."

The Blue Jackets would extend their lead to 6-0 on a goal by Matt Calvert 1:49 into the third period before the Rangers' surge.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Vesey banks home a backhander

Vesey got the scoring going with his 12th of the season on a sharp angle shot that beat goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. 

Grabner would find the net 2:10 later when he tipped home a shot/pass for his 22nd of the season. Kreider would net his 19th just 1:11 later to get the Rangers to within three.

Klein notched his first of the season with 1:07 to play, but it was as close as New York would get as the second period lapse would too big of a hole to climb out of.

"We just need to respond better," Klein said. "We had a good first. We build on that. We're down 1-0 but we had a lot of good chances. It's one of those things where we have to work on being mentally strong. If one or two [goals] goes in, we can't try and do more. We've got to simplify, protect the middle and just respond better as a team."

Ryan McDonagh said the responsibility of improving the team's play at home starts with him and the rest of the leadership group.

"Right now, it's not going the way we want to at home," McDonagh said. "We're working on it here. We've got to continue to build on it and find a way. We're in the second half now, so there are no excuses for coming out and playing that way. And that's on us veteran guys, making sure we have everybody going the way we need to.

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