Chris Kreider scores twice as Rangers shut out Blue Jackets, 4-0

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Chris Kreider yelling blue jersey
Chris Kreider yelling blue jersey

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Kreider scored two power play goals, Igor Shesterkin stopped 31 shots for his third career shutout and first this season, and the New York Rangers got their first home win with a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.

Ryan Strome and Alexis Lafrenière also scored, and Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin each had three assists to help New York get its fifth win in six games. Shesterkin had 12 saves in the first period, seven in the second and 12 in the third to improve to 4-1-1 with a 1.81 goals-against average.

Elvis Merzlikins made 33 saves for Columbus, which lost for the third time in five games and fell to 0-2-0 on the road. Merzlikins came in 4-0-0 with a 1.47 GAA in his first four starts.

The Rangers began the third period on a power play that carried over from the second. Kreider took advantage as he deflected a pass from Panarin on the right side past Merzlikins to push the lead to 3-0 at 1:19.

Kreider deflected a shot by Fox from the right side with 8:37 remaining with the Rangers on another power play for his sixth of the season. It was New York’s fifth power-play goal this season — all by Kreider.

Leading 2-0 after 20 minutes, the Rangers controlled play for much of the second period. They outshot the Blue Jackets 14-7 and had several nice scoring chances, but were denied each time by Merzlikins.

Shesterkin made a stellar save on Oliver Bjorkstrand in front during a Blue Jackets power play 7 1/2 minutes into the middle period, keeping Columbus off the scoreboard and drawing chants of “I-gor! I-gor!” from the home crowd.

Merzlikins stopped a tip by Kreider with 6 1/2 minutes left, a shot by Strome just 20 seconds later and an attempt by Lafrenière with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the period. The goalie also made several nice stops in the closing minutes and was sprawled on the ice and used his right pad to cover up a puck that rebounded off the end boards with about 20 seconds to go.

The Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 13-12 and scored twice in a three-minute span during a fast-paced first period.

Columbus started out strong, getting five shots on goal in the first 2 1/2 minutes, but couldn’t get anything past Shesterkin. New York then picked up its intensity and Merzlikins made nice saves on Barclay Goodrow 4 1/2 minutes in, and Kaapo Kakko 90 seconds later.

Strome got the Rangers on the scoreboard first, taking a pass from Panarin in the middle and beating Merzlikins up high for his first of the season with 7:31 left in the opening period. Rookie defenseman Nils Lundkvist got his first NHL point on the play.

New York doubled its lead as Fox brought the puck around the back of Columbus’ net and sent a pass from the left corner across the front of the crease to a streaking Lafrenière , who quickly fired it past Merzlikins for his third with 4:29 to go.

CLIMBING UP

Kreider’s first goal gave him 352 career points, breaking a tie with Petr Nedved for 27th place in franchise history. Kreider has 13 goals and 19 points in 29 career games against Columbus.

LINEUP

Kakko returned to the Rangers’ lineup after missing four games due to an upper-body injury. He replaced Julien Gauthier. New York was also without forward Ryan Reaves, who left early in the first period against Calgary on Monday night. Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said Reaves, who is on IR, will accompany the team on its upcoming four-game trip.

Max Domi was back in the Blue Jackets’ lineup after missing four games due to a broken rib. He replaced rookie Yegor Chinakhov.

HONORING ESSENTIAL WORKERS

The Rangers honored essential workers, including first responders, healthcare personnel, nursing home attendants, transit employees and sanitation workers. The players wore special jerseys during warmups that were to be auctioned after the game.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: At New Jersey on Sunday.

Rangers: At Seattle on Sunday night to open a four-game trip.