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Strong start powers Rangers over host Blue Jackets

Jan 16, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) controls the puck as Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (4) defend during the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Mika Zibanejad and Barclay Goodrow scored in the first period as the visiting New York Rangers recorded a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.

The Rangers bounced back from their lackluster 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night and dominated the first two periods of their 15th win in 22 games (15-4-3).

Zibanejad became the sixth player in team history to reach 20 goals in at least six straight seasons with 7:21 left in the first. It also was his eighth career season with at least 20 goals.

Goodrow scored his first-career goal with the man advantage with 58 seconds left.

Vitali Kravtsov also scored the eventual game-winner, Goodrow also had an assist and Kaapo Kakko set up New York’s first two goals.

Backup goalie Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves, including a point-blank stop on Patrik Laine’s backhand try on a breakaway with 2:15 remaining in the first. He also made key stops on Gustav Nyquist, Adam Boqvist in the final minutes while Columbus played with the extra attacker.

Andrew Peeke scored early in the third for Columbus, which lost for the sixth time in eight games (2-6-0). Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves.

On a 4-on-4, the Rangers took a 1-0 lead as Kakko cleared the puck out of the defensive zone. Near center ice, Kakko moved the puck to Zibanejad, who used Columbus defenseman Tim Berni as a screen and rifled a one-timer from the left circle off the post.

The Rangers doubled their lead after Filip Chytil dug the puck out from behind the net and the sequence ended with Goodrow going to the right doorstep in time to deflect a K’Andre Miller shot over Merzlikins.

Shortly after Columbus took its first shot of the second, the Rangers made it 3-0 with 8:13 left when Kravtsov re-directed a centering feed from Chytil past Merzlikins after easily getting to the middle of the crease.

Peeke ended Halak’s shutout bid 81 seconds into the third by lifting a rising wrist shot from the slot into the net during a 4-on-4.

–Field Level Media