Rangers Rumors & News
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Nikolai Zherdev returned to Columbus, where he was booed by the crowd every time he touched the puck. Who do they think he is? Sean Avery? But the young right-winger had the last laugh, scoring a goal and assisting on two as he led the Rangers over the Blue Jackets (led by a grizzled, 28-year-old Manny Malhotra), by a score of 3-1.

The Rangers didn’t look good early on. Michal Rozsival coughed the puck up in the first period, but Dmitri Kalinin covered up for his teammate with a nice defensive play. But then it was Kalinin’s turn to screw up. He couldn’t control a bouncing puck, and Jakub Voracek grabbed it, tipped his helmet, said thank you very much and skated in on Henrik Lundqvist all by his lonesome and put the Blue Jackets on the board. The Blueshirts had a five on three soon after that and couldn’t have looked worse. They were caught flat-footed and knocked back on their heels when Columbus attacked and skated right by them.

Things turned in the second, though. Rick Nash had a breakaway, but Lundqvist stopped him cold. And then something happened that you don’t see every day. Something scary. There was a traffic jam in front of the Rangers’ bench, and Rostislav Klesla accidentally clubbed Tom Renney in the coconut with his stick. Renney collapsed behind the bench, and had to be helped to the locker room. He looked completely dazed, and didn’t return for the rest of the game. He was well enough to be interviewed afterwards, though, which was a good sign. There’s no word yet if he has a concussion or if he will be back behind the bench tonight.

To a man, the Rangers decided they had to win one for the Renner. When play resumed, Dan Girardi put a shot on goal that sneaked by Pascal Leclaire (with Zherdev and Markus Naslund getting assists). On a subsequent power play (a dreadful one for nine on the night, though some were shortened man advantages), Brandon Dubinsky redirected the puck with his skate, which found its way into the net (Girardi and Zherdev were credited with assists). And in the third, Zherdev stuck it to the crowd, netting the third goal with a nifty backhand (with Naslund and Chris Drury assisting). He was considered somewhat of an underachiever and malcontent with the Blue Jackets, but so far with New York, he’s trying to prove everbody wrong. And for one night at least, he did.

With the exception of their early foibles, the defense had a strong game. They had their sticks in the right place all night. Girardi’s turning into an offensive presence with a goal and an assist. And Marc Staal is more physical this season. He took two penalties, one for boarding and one basically for tackling. But you’d rather see that than having him play passively.

The team was back to dumping and chasing, and working hard in the offensive zone, which produced another win. The penalty killing was a perfect five for five. And in the nets, Lundqvist was typical Lundqvist. He made 25 saves, and turned back Columbus whenever they had a flurry of activity in front of the net.

While the team was in Ohio, they all registered to vote, but tonight they’ll be back at the Garden to host the Penguins.

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