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Rangers 3, Blue Jackets 1

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- This night was supposed to be about New York Rangers right winger Rick Nash finally coming back to Nationwide Arena to face his former club, and in many ways it was.

But another former Columbus Blue Jackets player -- Rangers center Derick Brassard -- ended up stealing the show.

Brassard's nifty goal at 11:31 of the third period led the Rangers to a 3-1 win before a soldout crowd of 18,513.

Center Derek Stepan and left winger Carl Hagelin also scored for the Rangers, while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had 25 saves in his fourth straight start.

The Blue Jackets goal was scored by left winger Nick Foligno. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had 29 saves, but will best be remembered for his second-period eruption with Nash.

All eyes were on Nash from the start of the game, including a video tribute by Columbus during the first TV timeout in the first period. The Blue Jackets' No. 1 overall pick in 2002, he spent 10 seasons in Columbus and owns every offensive record in the franchise book.

But the love affair with Nash was lost when he asked for a trade late in the 2011-12 season. Five months later, he was shipped to the Rangers in a blockbuster deal that brought three players and a first-round draft pick to the Blue Jackets.

Nash was often criticized for not caring enough during his time in Columbus, but he played with an abundance of passion in his first game back in Nationwide Arena since the trade.

With 2:54 remaining in the second period, Nash came hard to the net and crashed into Bobrovsky just after flipping the puck off his stick.

The goal was immediately disallowed on the ice by referee Eric Furlatt, who ruled that Bobrovsky made the initial save and only lost control of the puck after Nash crashed into him.

Only then did the situation get really interesting.

As Nash went to retrieve his stick, Bobrovsky reached down with his stick and lifted it toward the Rangers forward, only to flip it away from Nash when he reached for it.

Nash gave Bobrovsky a two-hand punch in the face, and the scene nearly erupted into a melee, with all five players on each side squaring off with a partner. Bobrovsky, who blatantly tripped Nash earlier in the game, could be seen on the outskirts with a smile on his face.

Nash and left winger Chris Kreider were given roughing minors, as was Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov.

The nastiness spilled into the third period, too. On the opening faceoff, Nash and Blue Jackets left winger Matt Calvert got tangled up. When they separated, the gloves came off, with Nash landing the only punches of the fight.

The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead at 1:12 of the third period when Foligno picked off a sloppy pass from Rangers winger Benoit Pouliot in the high slot. With no Ranger in sight, Foligno skated in on Lundqvist and scored over his right shoulder.

The Rangers weren't down for long. Only 44 seconds later, Stepan took a pass in the high slot and scored when his shot deflected off the leg of Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov.

Hagelin had an empty-net goal with 38.7 seconds to go to cap the scoring.

NOTES: The Blue Jackets made a healthy scratch of RW R.J. Umberger for a second straight game. On Thursday in Montreal, Columbus coach Todd Richards said he thinks Umberger has "more to give." Umberger had never been a healthy scratch prior to the last two games. ... The Rangers have five former Blue Jackets players -- RW Rick Nash, C Derick Brassard, RW Derek Dorsett, D John Moore and D Anton Stralman -- and former Jackets head coach Scott Arniel. The Blue Jackets have three former Rangers -- C Brandon Dubinsky, C Artem Anisimov and D Fedor Tyutin. ... Dorsett was expected to be a healthy scratch for the Rangers, but went into the lineup in place of RW Dan Carcillo.
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