COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Chris Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, Alexandar Georgiev had 36 saves and the New York Rangers topped the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Friday night.
Kreider scored on a wrist shot from the slot with 3:12 left in the game, just 2 seconds after a Rangers’ power play ended and Columbus’ Jakob Lilja was rushing out of the box. Ryan Strome added an empty-netter with 1:11 left.
Pavel Buchnevich also scored for the Rangers, who have won four straight and are 7-2 in their last nine. They swept a back-to-back, beating Minnesota in a shootout on Thursday night. Friday’s win put them within seven points of wild-card teams Columbus and Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.
Oliver Bjorkstrand got his team-leading 19th goal and Elvis Merzlikins had 25 saves for injury ravaged Columbus, which is winless in its last four games (0-2-2) on the heels of a 10-game points streak.
New York scored off a face-off just 22 seconds into the game when Buchnevich redirected a Jacob Trouba shot from the point high past Merzlikin’s glove.
After a sustained attack in the second period in which Columbus outshot New York 22-7, the Blue Jackets were rewarded with some luck. Bjorkstrand tied the game when he took a blind, backhanded swipe at a loose puck and beat Georgiev late in the second.
Columbus’ Boone Jenner hit the post on a short-handed breakaway with 4:44 left before Kreider scored the winner.
NOTES: Georgiev started ahead of Igor Shesterkin, who missed his second game with an ankle injury. He is day to day. … Columbus F Liam Foudy was obligated to go back to London of the Ontario Hockey League to play Friday night after playing Thursday for the NHL team. Jakob Lilja was recalled from Cleveland (AHL) to replace him. … Blue Jackets D David Savard is the only NHL player with at least 120 blocked shots and 100 hits. … Columbus still has nine regulars out with injuries, including G Joonas Korpisalo, D Seth Jones and forward Cam Atkinson. … New York D Marc Staal returned after missing Thursday night’s game with the flu. … Buchnevich is the NHL’s 20th player to score in the opening 22 seconds of a game this season.
Rangers: Host Boston Bruins on Sunday.
Blue Jackets: At New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
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