New Year’s Eve comeback falls just short


It’s been officially 2020 for nearly five hours. Admittedly, I didn’t get to see any of the game last night. Like some people, I was out doing New Year’s Eve stuff with my brother and our friends. Needless to say, we had more fun than the Rangers did in a wild, crazy and strange game they lost at Edmonton by a score of 7-5.

I’m not about to do a long recap of a game I missed. With the exception of updates from Justin and Twitter, I never thought they’d ever come as close as they did. This was a game they trailed by a touchdown in. The Oilers got three in the first period with James Neal scoring only 11 seconds in. They would add three more in the second, highlighted by Neal cashing in his third for a hat trick on a power play. Edmonton scored three power play goals.

By the time they made it 6-0 on a broken play Josh Archibald scored on with the Rangers running around, an incensed Alexandar Georgiev broke his goalie stick before being lifted for Henrik Lundqvist. From viewing the highlights above, it wasn’t his fault. This was a total meltdown by the Rangers. Both rookies Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox struggled. It was their worst game since coach David Quinn paired them up.

There also was an oops play where Mika Zibanejad had a Edmonton pass go off him right to Leon Draisaitl for a goal on the penalty kill. That was the kinda night it was. There was more going on than just the first six Edmonton goals that chased Georgiev. Fans on my timeline were irate over the officiating. That included a couple of people who cover the team. It sounds like the Blueshirts got the short end of the stick.

To their credit, they never quit. A great feed from Artemi Panarin set up Chris Kreider for his 12th with less than 30 seconds left in the second. Panarin nearly willed the team back to a historic comeback. He would record a goal and three assists to give him 55 points. It’s astonishing what the Bread Man is doing. There are no words. MVP caliber.

Somehow, the Oilers nearly blew a six goal lead on home ice. They led by five entering the third period. They’re not exactly great defensively and haven’t been getting consistent goaltending. There’s a reason they have fallen to fourth in their division and are now clinging to a wildcard.

Ryan Strome reminded his former team of how foolish they were by giving him away for Ryan Spooner. He finished off a Fox pass across that Panarin started with a excellent pull up and feed to the rookie defenseman, who set up Strome to make it 6-2. Strome then fired a shot that looked like his second straight goal. But Marc Staal was in front and had the puck deflect off his stick. They changed the goal to Staal from Strome and Panarin.

It got even more interesting when Panarin skated unchecked and surprised Mikko Koskinen with a quick wrist shot that beat the Edmonton starter short side, high glove to cut the deficit to 6-4. There was still plenty of time left. At that point, Justin put it on his phone. I could hear Sam Rosen calling the Zibanejad goal that just crossed the goal line to make it 6-5. On it, he fired a shot that Koskinen gloved. However, his glove was over the line resulting in video review confirming the goal that made it a one goal contest.

With Lundqvist pulled for an extra attacker, Panarin made the only mistake he did in an otherwise brilliant period. Instead of shooting from the left circle, he forced a pass in the middle that was easily intercepted for an Oilers empty netter that finished off the comeback attempt.

Basically, Edmonton held on for dear life to pull out a bizarre 7-5 win. I never got sucked in. I figured being down six goals was too much to ask. Even if Kreider got one back to make it 6-1 before the conclusion of the second.

Let’s give them a lot of credit. Sure. It’s still a loss that had a lot of ugly moments including an infuriated Quinn mouthing off to the officials following an extra minor to Lindgren he didn’t like. The problem was Edmonton had already scored, meaning the coach showed no composure by earning an unsportsmanlike minor to put a dangerous opponent back on the power play. The end result was two goals in like 15 seconds. Connor McDavid set up Neal for his hat trick. Brutal. Oddly, that was McDavid’s only point.

Even if the officials aren’t doing you no favors, you have to show more poise than that. Quinn yapped and waved his arms. A no no. Predictably, the refs put their whistles away in the third.

There’s nothing much else to add. It’s a New Year. A new decade. It’s 2020. Hard to believe 1990 was 30 years ago. I feel old. Let’s hope a new Roaring 20’s brings more excitement for everyone.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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