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game recap

Rangers rally in Nash's return to Columbus

Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 4:39 AM

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

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Rangers rally in Nash's return to Columbus
New York Rangers 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 1
Three Stars of the Game
Henrik Lundqvist
1st
SA: 26TOI: 59:55
GA: 1EV: 23-24
PIM: 0PP: 1-1
SV%: .962SH: 1-1
Sergei Bobrovsky
2nd
SA: 31TOI: 59:40
GA: 2EV: 19-21
PIM: 0PP: 10-10
SV%: .935SH: 0-0
Derick Brassard
3rd
G: 1Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 1
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 16:00

COLUMBUS -- Even though New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash didn't get a point in his anticipated return to Nationwide Arena on Friday, he made a point with his teammates during a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Nash, the former Blue Jackets captain, rode an emotional roller coaster during his first game here since Columbus traded him to New York in July 2012.

He was booed at the start, received a prolonged standing ovation after a video tribute, then became public enemy No. 1 for two skirmishes with Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and a third-period fight with undersized forward Matt Calvert.

"It was a great game, a lot of fun," Nash said. "But I'm definitely glad it's over."

Two other former Blue Jackets had big roles in helping New York (38-29-4) move two points ahead of Columbus (36-28-6) into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Derek Brassard put the Rangers up 2-1 with 8:29 remaining, and defenseman Anton Stralman had an assist on each of the first two goals.

Nick Foligno gave Columbus a 1-0 lead at 1:12 of the third period before Derek Stepan tied the score 44 seconds later.

The Rangers got an empty-net goal from Carl Hagelin, and goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves, but Brassard said Nash's physical play and willingness to mix it up was an inspiration.

"It shows a lot of character. We loved it," Brassard said. "He's our best player, but when the game's on the line and your best player is showing emotion like that, it lifts the team."

The first period was filled with energy and mixed feelings for Nash, who spent nine seasons with Columbus and is the Blue Jackets' career leader in games played (674), points (547), goals (289) and assists (258).

He was booed during the introduction of the starting lineup and when he had the puck, but by the end of a video tribute with 13:45 to go in the first period, most people stood and cheered although there was further booing.

Nash said he was touched and not surprised by the range of reactions.

"There were boos right when I grabbed the puck, but I still love the Columbus fans," he said. "I stay true to what I say. I appreciate that because they're passionate. They love their hockey.

"I wouldn't expect anything else. They gave me my standing ovation during the video. That means a lot. I'm thankful for that. They love the Blue Jackets."

The booing got louder with 2:54 remaining in the second period when Nash and Bobrovsky tangled for the second time. The goalie dumped Nash in front of the goal during a Rangers power play in the first period, but that was a minor skirmish compared to round two.

Nash had a step on the defense and cut toward the net from the right faceoff circle. He powered his way to the crease and got off a shot before colliding with Bobrovsky.

The puck crossed the goal line but it was immediately waved off for goalie interference. Bobrovsky used his stick to lift Nash's off the ice. As Nash reached for the stick, Bobrovsky knocked it away. Nash then made a two-handed shove to Bobrovsky's mask.

"Did you see me go pick up the stick and I got two whacks in the first period then I go to pick up my stick and he flings it away?" Nash said. "You've got to own up when you do something like that."

Nash was heartily booed when he was escorted to the penalty box, and the result was a Blue Jackets power play on which they failed to score for the 29th straight time over the past eight games.

"We need to focus on where our power play needs to be," Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky said. "It could have been the difference today. We've got to figure it out and figure it out quick."

Nash explained why he and Calvert fought 12 seconds into the third period.

"The two crosschecks to the head, the slew foot and the fact that he said he's going with me no matter what," said Nash, 6-foot-4, 213 pounds. "He didn't care. That was enough to set me off."

Calvert offered a different explanation.

"He took a cheap shot at our goalie and we really didn't have a chance to respond because the linesmen jumped in," said Calvert, 5-foot-11, 187 pounds. "I had a chance right at the start of the third period to get the boys going. He had to pay for what he did. It was a gutless move. I'm glad it happened, but it's a disappointing loss."

Brassard scored his 16th of the season with a wraparound between the left post and Bobrovsky's pad.

"I was trying to put the puck in front," Brassard said. "I caught him off guard. He was not on his post."

New York coach Alain Vigneault was pleased with the response after Columbus took the lead.

"We showed a lot of mental toughness in this game," he said. "Both teams know what's at stake. It's a playoff game. There was a lot of chippiness out there."

scoring summary
1st Period
NONE
2nd Period
NONE
3rd Period
01:12
CBJ
Nick Foligno (18) Snap shot - ASST: NONE
1 - 0 CBJ
01:56
NYR
Derek Stepan (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Ryan McDonagh (26), Anton Stralman (8)
1 - 1 Tie
11:31
NYR
Derick Brassard (16) Wrap-around - ASST: Anton Stralman (9), Mats Zuccarello (33)
2 - 1 NYR
19:21
NYR
EN - Carl Hagelin (17) Wrist shot - ASST: Mats Zuccarello (34), Marc Staal (9)
3 - 1 NYR
penalty summary
1st Period
08:09
NYR
Ryan McDonagh  Hi-sticking against  Nick Foligno
11:42
NYR
Benoit Pouliot  Fighting (maj) against  Derek MacKenzie
11:42
CBJ
Derek MacKenzie  Fighting (maj) against  Benoit Pouliot
16:56
CBJ
Nathan Horton  Roughing against  Ryan McDonagh
18:27
CBJ
Fedor Tyutin  Cross checking against  Mats Zuccarello
2nd Period
07:20
CBJ
Dalton Prout  Boarding against  Martin St. Louis
12:38
CBJ
Fedor Tyutin  Hooking against  Carl Hagelin
17:06
NYR
Chris Kreider  Roughing against  Artem Anisimov
17:06
CBJ
Artem Anisimov  Roughing against  Chris Kreider
17:06
NYR
Rick Nash  Roughing against  Sergei Bobrovsky
3rd Period
00:12
NYR
Rick Nash  Fighting (maj) against  Matt Calvert
00:12
CBJ
Matt Calvert  Fighting (maj) against  Rick Nash
00:12
NYR
Rick Nash  Roughing against  Matt Calvert
00:12
CBJ
Matt Calvert  Roughing against  Rick Nash
03:32
NYR
Anton Stralman  Tripping against  Brandon Dubinsky
goalie stats
Henrik Lundqvist
SA: 26TOI: 59:55
Saves: 25EV: 23 - 24
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .962SH: 1 - 1
Sergei Bobrovsky
SA: 31TOI: 59:40
Saves: 29EV: 19 - 21
PIM: 0PP: 10 - 10
SV%: .935SH: 0 - 0