Blue Jackets 4, Rangers 3

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Upcoming opponents might want to start taking the once hapless and now improved Columbus Blue Jackets more seriously.

Rick Nash’s breakaway goal late in the third period lifted the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Monday night.

“It was a great pass by (Nikolai) Zherdev,” said Nash, who has nine goals and seven assists in a season-high, nine-game point streak. “I kind of tipped it past the defenseman and came in and made a little move.”

Marcel Hossa, who was benched for the Rangers’ previous six games, tied it 6:56 into the third with his second goal of the night. But New York lost its second straight following a seven-game point streak.

Jason Chimera, David Vyborny and Jody Shelley scored for the Blue Jackets, who have won four of five and are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games—the team’s best stretch of the season.

“It was a great hockey game,” Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. “It was our most complete game of the season. We got out to an early 3-1 lead and held on after that.”

Columbus, which entered as the NHL’s lowest-scoring club, has netted 22 goals in five games.

“All of a sudden we’re scoring goals,” said goaltender Marc Denis, who has won five of his last seven starts. “There’s a feeling in this dressing room that no matter what the final score is going to be we can be on top.”

Jason Ward also scored and Dominic Moore had three assists for New York. Jaromir Jagr, the league’s leading scorer with 69 points, was held without one on three shots for the Rangers.

Nash took Zherdev’s pass down the right wing, beat Thomas Pock at the blue line and stick-handled around goaltender Kevin Weekes to score with 6:38 remaining.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t make the save,” Weekes said. “Otherwise we could have gotten it to overtime. He made a good move.”

Nash has scored all 12 of his goals in 15 games since returning from a knee injury.

Hossa, who hadn’t played since Dec. 31, made it 3-3 with a wrist shot through traffic from the edge of the left circle for his seventh goal of the season.

“In the first 10 minutes something was amiss with our team and our approach,” New York coach Tom Renney said. “We got it going finally, but at the end of the day the better team won.”

The teams combined for five goals on 21 shots in a back-and-forth first period.

Hossa started the scoring at 3:30, stuffing home a rebound off Moore’s shot from the right corner past Denis.

Chimera tied it just over a minute later, charging down the left wing on a 2-on-1 rush and beating Weekes between the legs, while dislodging the net. The goal stood up through a video review and Denis earned his first assist of the season.

Vyborny scored his fifth goal in four games at 7:27 for a 2-1 Columbus lead. Jan Hrdina centered the puck from behind the net and Vyborny beat Weekes with a one-timed shot from just outside the crease.

“It was nice to beat the Rangers and especially all those Czech guys,” said Vyborny, also from the Czech Republic. “We have more confidence … and it’s carrying over to the games.”

The Blue Jackets scored again 2 minutes later to make it 3-1.

On a counterattack, defenseman Ron Hainsey pulled up inside the blue line along the right boards and feathered a pass to a streaking Shelley, who redirected the puck past Weekes.

“They’ve (the coaches) been saying all year to go to the net,” said Shelley, who scored for the first time since the third game of the season. “Ronnie made a great play.”

Ward pulled the Rangers to within one at 14:48, redirecting Moore’s centering pass from the left corner.

“Tonight was just a textbook game,” Denis said. “We played the (Martin) Straka, Jagr line tough.”

Notes

Moore had only four assists in his first 45 games this season. … The Blue Jackets are 11-10-2 since a 5-18 start. … Columbus scored its three first-period goals on four shots in a span of 4:48. … Rangers D Darius Kasparaitis missed his second consecutive game with a sprained knee, sustained in pregame warmups Saturday in Detroit. … The Rangers went 0-for-1 with the man-advantage and their power play is 2-for-31 in the last seven games. … The Blue Jackets have won four straight at home.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
R. Nash R. Nash
Columbus Blue Jackets
Scored at 13:22 of 3rd

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Kevin Weekes NJ 32 28