COLUMBUS, Ohio — Throughout his team’s five-game losing streak, which ended with Saturday’s victory over the Islanders in Brooklyn, Rangers coach David Quinn was mostly calm and analytical and sympathetic to his players. On some nights, he even made a point of saying how proud he was of their effort.
Not Sunday night, though.
Watching the Rangers take five minor penalties, allow seven even-strength goals and lose battle after battle in a ragged 7-5 loss to John Tortorella’s Blue Jackets was enough to make Quinn about as angry as he has been in his first season as their coach.
“Listen, you’re going to lose hockey games, but you better want to battle somebody,’’ he said. “It’s just ridiculous. You know, three games where we feel pretty good about our effort and compete, and then we come out here and do that? It’s a freaking joke.’’
The Rangers (18-20-7) handed the Blue Jackets five power plays in the first two periods and were outshot 40-27. And though they didn’t allow a power-play goal, they spent most of the night defending and chasing the puck, which is not a reliable formula for winning hockey games.
“When you don’t come out and move your feet and finish checks, the other team’s going to have the puck more,’’ Chris Kreider said. “I mean, it looked like summer hockey for them for a big part of the game. And when they have the puck that much, you’re chasing. You’re going to take penalties, you’re going to take stick penalties, especially when you’re trying to defend hard.”
Quinn decided to start rookie Alexandar Georgiev in goal in the second game of a back-to-back rather than play Henrik Lundqvist. Georgiev played a solid game in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders, and Quinn said before the game that he wanted to give him a chance to play a second straight game and give Lundqvist “a mental breather.’’
The Rangers gave Georgiev (33 saves) an early lead when Ryan Strome buried a two-on-one pass from Filip Chytil at 4:34 of the first period. He beat Sergei Bobrovsky (22 saves), who returned to action for the Blue Jackets after sitting out a two-game suspension for what the Columbus organization called “an incident’’ that “failed to meet expectations and values.’’
The Blue Jackets tied it 34 seconds later on a goal by Artemi Panarin and took a 2-1 lead at 8:55 when Anthony Duclair jetted wide around Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, then cut in from the right circle and chipped a forehand shot over Georgiev’s shoulder.
Kreider tied it for the Rangers with a four-on-four goal at 17:56 of the period, but the Blue Jackets outscored the Rangers 3-1 in the second period to take a 5-3 lead into the third.
After David Savard’s goal put Columbus up 6-3 at 5:29 of the third, goals by Mats Zuccarello (his second of the game and third in two games) and Jimmy Vesey cut it to 6-5 with 3:12 to go. But Nick Foligno’s second goal of the game, with 1:46 left, put the game away for Columbus.