Playoff bound Rangers overwhelm struggling Blue Jackets by 6-2 final

Rangers end of season grades
The New York Rangers celebrate a goal by New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photos

Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant wanted his team to show mental toughness with a playoff berth locked up and nine games to go in the regular season. 

His team answered the call Tuesday night in a big way. 

The Rangers overwhelmed the Metropolitan bottom-dwellers, Columbus Blue Jackets for their third straight win and seventh in their last eight games by a 6-2 final. 

“We got out to the great start and settled down in the second and third periods. Played a better all-around game…there’s a lot of kids in their (Columbus) lineup and those are tough games to play.” Gallant said following the win. 

New York’s offense started on fire early in the first period. After Igor Shesterkin made a couple of acrobatic saves a combination of Filip Chytil, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Patrick Kane scored separate goals within a three-minute span to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead. 

Columbus wouldn’t go down easily though. 

Thanks to some defensive breakdowns by the Blueshirts, the Blue Jackets scored twice to end the first period – one coming off a powerplay, to cut the deficit to one after the first period. 

“Obviously it was a great start sometimes it’s easy to let those things happen in games where you’re in the dog days of the season where you look ahead too much. I think after the hiccup in the first we really finished out strong.” Kane explained after the win. 

From there though, the Rangers and their reigning Vezina-winning goaltender would secure the win. Artemi Panarin’s powerplay goal in the second period was followed by Zibanejad’s 38th score in the third to preserve the three-point win. Zibanejad’s two-point night ended up tying his career-high in points that he set last season with 81. 

“We want to make sure we have a good feeling in the locker room, no matter the team that we play. Build on our game, build towards that now. Now we can say that we’re looking forward to the playoffs” the top-line center said. 

New York’s win moved them to 44-20-10 and 98 points on the season. They are just one more regular season victory away from securing back-to-back 100-point seasons – just the third time in franchise history the Rangers have accomplished that feat. 

Game Notes

  • Ryan Lindgren continues to be out with an upper-body injury he suffered back on February 25th. The top defenseman has played in just one game since his injury. New York has maintained a cautious approach with Lindgren’s return. 
  • Mika Zibanejad’s second-period assist on the Panarin goal gave the starting forward 80 points on the season, and for the second straight year. He is the fourth Rangers player in the past 25 years to record consecutive 80-point seasons with a list consisting of Panarin this year, Jaromir Jagr, and Wayne Gretzky. 
  • Tuesday’s win inched the Rangers closer to having home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blueshirts trail the second-place Devils by just two points and can overtake them with a win on Thursday. 
  • Vincent Trocheck netted his 20th goal of the season Tuesday night with an empty-netter. He joined Kreider, Zibanejad, Chytil, and Panarin to hit the 20-goal mark this season. The last season to feature five different 20-goal scorers for the Ranger was 2015-16 (Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider).

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