NEW YORK – Fiery coach John Tortorella had a calm, reassuring tone and message after the New York Rangers fell into an early two-goal hole.
He called timeout and told his club to relax. It was only two goals and there were still nearly 50 minutes remaining for a comeback against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Marian Gaborik got the offence going, the Rangers took the lead before the first period was over and they rolled to a 7-4 victory Monday night.
“I didn’t think we were playing that badly,” Tortorella said. “We had some breakdowns in the defensive zone and they scored. I told them to take a deep breath. There is a lot of hockey left, and we found a way to come back.”
As he has done all season, Gaborik provide the spark with two goals and two assists, but this time he had lots of long-awaited help.
Sean Avery also scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Rangers, who strung together seven straight goals. New York matched its biggest scoring outburst this season.
“The biggest thing was coming back from that 2-0 deficit. It’s a big boost to our confidence,” Avery said. “It’s only one game. We can be happy about the fact that we got some goals from other guys, but it’s got to be a consistent thing.”
Derek MacKenzie opened the scoring 5:38 in, and Jared Boll made it 2-0 at 9:31 as Columbus took advantage of the Rangers’ two defensive-zone breakdowns.
New York scored three times in the first to take the lead and then added four goals in the second against starting goalie Steve Mason and beleaguered backup Mathieu Garon.
Gaborik, Artem Anisimov and rookie defenceman Michael Del Zotto wiped out the deficit. Avery scored 6:12 into the second to make it 4-2 and chase Mason – last season’s NHL rookie of the year – who made only 14 saves.
Anisimov had a goal and two assists, and rookie forward P.A. Parenteau helped set up two goals.
“It was a sloppy game. It was a weird game. It wasn’t a great goalie game,” Lundqvist said. “What’s important is we didn’t panic after the second goal.”
Garon was under siege right away. Avery, who hadn’t scored in 15 games, added his second of the night 51 seconds later on the first shot Garon faced. New York made it 2 for 2 just 20 seconds after that when Gaborik netted his second goal and 18th this season, moving him into a tie for the league lead with San Jose’s Dany Heatley.
Blue Jackets star forward Rick Nash was a minus-4.
“When your best players are minus big time, you’re not going to win many games,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
New York scored three goals in a span of 1:11. Avery muscled defenceman Mike Commodore off the puck and stuffed it in for his first. Then he finished off a 2-on-1 with Gaborik for his second.
Kristian Huselius scored with 1:12 left in the second to snap the Rangers’ goal streak. Jakub Voracek’s tally with 11:47 left brought the Blue Jackets to 7-4.
Columbus is 0-1-1 on its five-game road trip, which began after a three-game winning streak. The Blue Jackets lost in regulation for the first time since Nov. 11 when they were beaten 9-1 by Detroit in Hitchcock’s 1,000th NHL game.
“We got off to a good start. They took a timeout and they turned up the heat. We didn’t,” Commodore said. “They are quick and we were on our heels a little bit. Then it was 7-2 before we knew it.
“We were still in it after the first. Then the second period was just a disaster.”
With Hall of Fame New York defenceman Brian Leetch looking on, Matt Gilroy – another Rangers rookie defenceman – scored a breakaway goal at 12:47 of the second to make it 7-2. New York had three goals on its first five shots against Garon, who was bailed out later in the period when Christopher Higgins and Ryan Callahan hit posts with shots.
When Garon finally made a save, he heard mock cheers from the festive Madison Square Garden crowd that had been longing for a win. The Rangers were 4-9-1 since a seven-game winning streak ended in mid-October and they had dropped three straight at home.
Gaborik and linemate Vinny Prospal had combined to score each of New York’s previous six goals before Anisimov broke the string and tied it 2-all at 13:37. Tortorella has been calling for the Rangers to get much-needed secondary scoring, and Anisimov’s goal snapped a stretch of 212 minutes, 19 seconds over four games since someone other than Gaborik or Prospal found the net.
New York had scored only 18 goals overall in its previous 10 games (3-7). Now the Rangers are headed on a three-game road trip.
“It just tells you that the scoring is here,” Prospal said. “This has got to be a habit. It can’t just be one game. This puts the pressure on us to do it again next game.”
NOTES: The Rangers also scored seven goals in an Oct. 12 home win over Toronto. … Boll also had an assist and two fights. … Rangers captain Chris Drury (concussion) had a contact drill after practice and seems close to returning. He has missed five games.