COLUMBUS, Ohio - With three goals in a 1-minute, 17-second stretch late in the third period, the Rangers rallied for their second consecutive win to open the season, stunning the Blue Jackets, 4-2, at Nationwide Arena on Friday night.
Rookie Oscar Lindberg tied the game at 2-2, beating Sergei Bobrovsky at 17:24 from the right side. Kevin Hayes followed that with a sharp angle, short-side goal from the blue line 17 seconds later and Mats Zuccarello's second of the night, a wrister over Bobrovsky's glove, sealed the comeback at 18:41.
"If you look at the goals, it was just some quick plays and we took advantage of some mistakes," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "I have to admit I didn't have a good feeling after they scored that [power-play] goal; late in the game, they looked very confident."
"We did it a lot last year," Dan Girardi said. "Hank keeps us in the game, different guys step up every night. You know they're [Columbus] is going to come out hard every time. They made some runs and we just took it. We had a couple chances and buried them, although, yeah, Hayes' goal was a lucky one."
It had looked shaky for the Blueshirts after Brandon Saad scored on a wrister on the Blue Jackets' fifth power play at 16:10 of the third for a 2-1 lead with Ryan McDonagh in the box.
But the Rangers pressed and Bobrovksy folded. The team had edged the Blackhawks 3-2 in Chicago on Wednesday, and host Columbus on Saturday in the home opener at Madison Square Garden.
Lundqvist finished with 31 saves, Bobrovsky with 21.
With the score tied at 1 early in the third period, the Rangers finished off their fourth penalty kill and Lundqvist gloved Kevin Connauton's low fastball from the left point for his 26th save.
The entire game was a hard-hitting affair. McDonagh took umbrage with Nick Foligno in the crease, and then Dalton Prout sent Jarret Stoll flying at the other end.
With the Rangers leading 1-0 on Zuccarello's late first-period goal, the Blueshirts had to kill two early penalties in the second -- Jesper Fast's slash at 1:20 and Dan Boyle's trip at 4:09 -- and were 3-for-3 on the evening. The Jackets were playing with 11 forwards because Alexander Wennberg did not return after an upper-body injury in the first.
The play was fairly even until Derick Brassard couldn't control a pass in the offensive zone and fell reaching for the puck. Brandon Dubinsky recovered and found Cam Atkinson with a pass up ice. Atkinson sped in, deked Lundqvist and scored at 10:59 to tie it at 1.
In a bruising first period, the checks came heavy and often. At 4:56, the Jackets' Jared Boll shoved Boyle in front and Marc Staal blasted him. Boll received four minutes and Staal two, but the Rangers managed no shots on the power play.
The hitting continued every shift. McDonagh got a stick in the face from Rene Bourque along the boards but no call. Girardi was buried in the corner by Bourque and Chris Kreider flattened Wennberg at the other end. Staal finished a check on Bourque at center ice, Ryan Johansen crunched Lindberg, Bourque took out McDonagh along the wall with an elbow to his head that dislodged the defenseman's helmet and he went off for another two minutes. J.T. Miller went to the bench for facial repairs after being struck by a shot on a power play. Keith Yandle was dumped and Lundqvist had to stop Atkinson's shorthanded try from the high slot. Jarret Stoll was whistled for holding a stick with 4:34 left, but Viktor Stalberg and Lindberg helped kill that infraction.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead with 43.6 seconds left in the first. After Zuccarello was decked by defenseman Fedor Tyutin, he popped up, stole the puck, spun and flipped a spinning backhander past Bobrovsky.