The Rangers haven’t lost a lot of games lately, but they continue to lose personnel.
Alexis Lafreniere scored twice in the Blueshirts’ 4-3 shootout win over the Blue Jackets, including the game-tying goal with 11 seconds left in regulation, to pick up the team’s third straight victory in a game that went sour when Ryan Lindgren departed in the third period with an undisclosed injury.
Lafreniere also scored the only goal in the skills competition to hand Columbus their fifth straight loss.
Lindgren exited the game early in the third period after getting slammed headfirst into the boards in the corner by Columbus forward Sean Kuraly.
The 25-year-old defenseman stayed down on the ice for some time and was slow to get up before he made his way to the locker room, where he remained for the rest of the game.
Nick Bonino took exception to the hit and immediately went after Kuraly, who was originally issued a major boarding penalty before it was reduced to a two-minute minor.
Despite Jonathan Quick’s quick — pun intended — return from an upper-body injury on Sunday, the Rangers are already without No. 1 defenseman Adam Fox and second-line center Filip Chytil.
In addition to having Fox on long-term injured reserve and Chytil on injured reserve, star goalie Igor Shesterkin has been unavailable the last four games due to what the team has called minor soreness.
While the Rangers have held their own amid this rare flurry of injuries, Lindgren always seems to take a big piece of the club’s defense with him when he’s out of the lineup. The Minnesota native missed one game earlier this season with an upper-body injury.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back, Columbus only let in three goals after giving up five in each of their previous three contests.
The Rangers had just taken their first lead of the night, 2-1, off Lafreniere’s second goal in as many games at the 11:17 mark of the second period. While Vincent Trocheck earned the primary assist, Artemi Panarin notched a point on the play to tie Rod Gilbert for the franchise’s longest consecutive-game point streak to start a season.
A minute and 18 seconds later, 19-year-old Adam Fantilli tied it up again. Nineteen seconds after that, Kuraly dove and cleaned up a rebound to give the Blue Jackets a 3-2 lead.
Will Cuylle nearly evened the score for a third time toward the end of the middle frame, when his tough-angled shot got wedged between Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins and the post. T
he rookie pointed at the net to signal that he thought it was in, but after a lengthy review, it was decided the puck had not crossed the line on the initial shot.
The Garden crowd let the referees know what they thought of the call so loudly that they could’ve been heard in a control room in Toronto.
Jacob Trouba pumped some life into the game when the Rangers’ captain pulled up and landed an open-ice hit on Kirill Marchenko in the first period.
Marchenko and Fantilli took exception and started a shoving match with Trouba, who somehow was the only one penalized in the sequence for roughing.
As the Blue Jackets’ power play expired, however, Justin Danforth tipped in a shot to open the scoring.
Columbus is a team that likes to trade rush chances and it started to look like a track meet for a second. The Rangers ended up knotting the game at one-all on an odd-man rush that saw Erik Gustafssson dish to Chris Kreider for his 10th goal of the season.