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Oscar Lindberg scores twice as Rangers win home opener over Blue Jackets

New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg is congratulated

New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg is congratulated by his teammates after he scores against Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

They made it a constant last season. If the Rangers race out of the gate with goals, they are difficult to catch, and it's showing again this year.

Rookie center Oscar Lindberg scored his third and fourth goals of the season and Dom Moore added a goal as the Rangers throttled the Columbus Blue Jackets with three goals in 5:48 of the first period to set the tone in a 5-2 win in the home opener at Madison Square Garden Saturday night and a sweep of the back-to-back set.

Marc Staal on the Rangers starting 3-0 this season: "We knew the three games in four nights [including a 3-2 win in Chicago] was going to be tough, so it's definitely nice. Last year, we were a few games under .500 in the first 10. We're winning games and not playing our best."

The flurry capped a six-goal outburst that started in Columbus on Friday night, with three goals in the final 2:36 to beat the Blue Jackets in their home opener, 4-2.

Henrik Lundqvist (37 saves) was superb again, allowing just two goals as the Blue Jackets found their legs in the second and third period. After Sergei Bobrovsky was replaced by Curtis McElhinney and Derek Stepan converted Chris Kreider's pass for his second goal of the season at 1:26, for a 5-0 lead, the shutout was over.

Ryan Johansen, alone in front, beat Lundqvist, who had stoned him in the second period with a remarkable stop, diving from the side after a bad carom off the boards to bat away Johansen's shot with his stick hand.

Lindberg, who was Hartford's best player last season, continued his stirring start. Kevin Hayes grabbed a loose puck and forced Bobrovsky into a skate save, but Lindberg, in the right spot near the right post, didn't miss, for his third goal in three games to start the season. No other Rangers rookie had ever accomplished that.

But the 23-year-old Swede wasn't finished. At 5:12, J.T. Miller targeted Lindberg in front with a pass from the left circle and the puck deflected past Bobrovsky. A review upheld the call on the ice.

"He's going to where the goals are scored,'' said Miller, who has four assists in three games. "When we create a little havoc, cause turnovers, he's always in the right spot, wide open. It's a scoring knack, hard to come by. He's making our line look good."

Thirty-six seconds later, Jarret Stoll found Moore with a saucer pass that he sent through Bobrovsky.

As the Garden crowd erupted, it seemed clear that the Blueshirts would extend their record to 3-0 with the Winnipeg Jets coming to town Tuesday. In all, the Rangers had scored seven goals in the first period of three games. They scored a league-best 84 in first periods last season.

But Columbus found its legs and determination, and the Rangers sagged a little in the second period with the lead, and left it up to Lundqvist to preserve the three-goal cushion.

In the first six minutes of the second, the Jackets led in shots 5-0 and halfway through the period, Brandon Saad, who scored Friday in Columbus, was sprung for a breakaway and was stopped by Lundqvist for his 22nd save.

The Blueshirts were outplayed for the period, but with Saad in the box for holding Stoll, Derick Brassard scored his first of the season with 48 seconds left to extend the lead to 4-0, converting a pass from Dan Boyle toward Bobrovsky that trickled in. Boone Jenner scored on a power play to cut the lead to 5-2, but the Rangers followed their formula: Score early, play defense, kill penalties and let Lundqvist do the rest.


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