With a three-game domination of Western Conference foes handled, the New York Rangers hope the success will carry over against a divisional rival tonight when they face off against a fellow Metropolitan Division member, the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena (7 PM, MSG), the conclusion of a four-game road trip.
The Rangers (13-4-0) currently top the Metro portion of the league, assisted by sweeping a three game trek through Western Canada, the last of which was a 7-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. The Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead via goals by JT Miller, Kevin Hayes and Brandon Pirri, before a quartet of goals in the final period helped put away the Canucks for good. Hayes and Miller opened the period with another goal each, scoring within 42 seconds of each other, before Mats Zuccarello and Nick Holden capped off the scoring later on. The Rangers went 2-for-3 on the power play, with Pirri and Holden emerging responsible.
Since a 2-3-1 start, the Blue Jackets have gotten on a bit of a roll, having won six of their past eight, including a 2-1 overtime triumph over the Washington Capitals in their last game, also on Tuesday, in front of the home fans at Nationwide. Trailing 1-0 entering the final frame of regulation, James Werenski tied things up for the Jackets before Cam Atkinson won it with just 37 second elapsing in extra time.
This will be the first of five meeting between the Blueshirts and Blue Jackets, the next coming on January 7, also in Ohio. The Rangers cleanly swept last season’s four games, winning each in regulation. The last victory clinched the Rangers’ 2016 playoff spot, their sixth in a row, a 4-2 victory at Columbus on April 4. Zuccarello and Chris Kreider, who is expected to return to the lineup tonight, each tallied a goal, while Derek Stepan put in an empty netter to cap things off. Nick Foligno had both Columbus goals.
This will be a matchup of the league’s two highest scoring teams, as the Blue Jackets have put in 3.4 goals per game, behind only the Rangers at 4.2.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490