Recap: Rangers Breeze Past Blue Jackets, 3-1

Thaaat’s more like it.

After a disappointing effort against the Montreal Canadiens, the Rangers headed to Columbus looking to get back on track against a similarly weak appointment. They did just that, with an easy 3-1 victory.

Within the first ten minutes of the game, the Rangers, already without Chris Kreider and Julien Gauthier, saw Ryan Lindgren head to the locker room after being boarded by Mathieu Oliver. The ensuing powerplay looked good but didn’t score. Later in the period, the Blue Jackets and Rangers traded minor penalties, resulting in four-on-four. Kaapo Kakko received a pass from Adam Fox before skating into the neutral zone and drawing three Columbus skaters. Kakko hit Mika Zibanejad breaking into the offensive zone, and Zib fired a quick shot off the far post and in to put the Rangers up 1-0. It was Zibanejad’s twentieth goal of the season, making him the sixth player in Rangers history to put up six 20-goal seasons in a row.

They added to their lead in the final minute of the period. Columbus took another penalty–their third of the period–and Barclay Goodrow made them pay. He deftly deflected a shot by K’Andre Miller, who has been seeing more powerplay time lately. The goal was Goodrow’s first in his past ten games, and his first career powerplay goal. Wild. The assist upped Miller’s point streak to seven. Overall it was the kind of period the Rangers should be playing against opponents of this caliber. Plus Lindgren came back! So, crisis averted there too.

The Rangers continued their routine dominance of the second period. It’s not as though they were flying high or doing anything flashy- they simply had a vice grip on the flow of play. Eventually this led to a 3-0 lead. Vitali Kravtsov, who received a perfect pass from Filip Chytil from below the goal line, notched his third goal of the season. It was Kravtsov’s first goal in his past 12 games. After two periods, the Rangers had more shots on goal than the Blue Jackets had shot attempts.

Columbus would spoil the shutout early in the third. On another four-on-four, Gustav Nyquist carried the puck into the Rangers zone alone and bided his time until Andrew Peeke, fresh off the bench, beat Jaroslav Halak with a quick release from distance.

The Blue Jackets momentarily woke up afterwards, spending sustained time in the offensive zone for the first time all game. They pressured the Rangers again in the final minutes with their goalie pull, but Halak made some saves and Lindgren blocked some shots.

The Rangers did what they needed to do, easily handling the Blue Jackets en route to a well-deserved victory. Their next game will be much more challenging, as they take on the league-leading Boston Bruins on Thursday.