The Blue Jackets (46-31-4) qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to a shootout goal by Artemi Panarin on Friday night in Madison Square Garden, beating the New York Rangers (31-36-14) by a 3-2 score.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus dominated the first period, including a few nice chances for debuting rookie forward Alexandre Texier, but the game was scoreless after one. An early goal in the second gave the Rangers the lead, and they carried the advantage through the rest of the period. Columbus scored early in the third to knot the game, then the rest of the affair was taut until Panarin's tiebreaking goal with 5:33 left. It wasn't over, though, as the Rangers tied it at 2 with an extra-attacker with 6.1 seconds to play. After a scoreless overtime, Panarin scored the lone goal of the shootout to clinch the win.
Video: CBJ@NYR: Panarin whips home shootout goal
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "I thought we just kept on playing. After the first period, I thought we had generated 12-13 scoring chances. Ou could see what the night is going to be like with that goaltender, how well he was playing. I appreciate our team just trying to stay with it. … I think it's a good lesson for us as we push forward here is just stay about yourself and stay with it and not get too antsy about it."
- Panarin's goal in the late going was his 28th of the year and gave Columbus the 2-1 lead and he later scored the shootout winning goal.
- Ryan Dzingel scored his fourth goal as a Blue Jacket and 26th of the season.
- Sergei Bobrovsky didn't have to make a ton of saves but made the ones he had count, as he racked up 25 denials including a save of the year candidate in the third period. He also turned aside three shots in the shootout.
There were chances either way, including each team drawing iron, but no score after a period.
Jackets rookie Texier was denied early on the doorstep off a slick feed from Zach Werenski by Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, who made 15 saves in the first, and Bobrovsky made a number of good early stops and also saw Mika Zibanejad hit the post.
Columbus returned the favor later in the period as Panarin let go a wrist shot from the left dot on the power play with 7:30 left in the frame, but he nailed the crossbar. Later, the Jackets' best chance came when Pierre-Luc Dubois set up Riley Nash with a diagonal pass at the post, but again Georgiev got over with the right pad to make the stop.
The Rangers got on the board first, though, 1:47 into the second. After Georgiev made a stop on a nice deflection by Matt Duchene, the Rangers went the other way on a 2-on-1. Zibanejad faked the shot and passed back to Chris Kreider, who beat Bobrovsky from the slot for his 28th goal.
Josh Anderson was then denied by Georgiev in the slot and the goalie was able to make an odd-man rush save on Ryan Dzingel before the Rangers had some great chances, as Lias Andersson hit the post a minute after Dzingel's chance and Bobrovksy made a nice denial of Kreider all alone in front.
Dzingel finally got the Jackets on the board, though, 2:25 into the third to make it a 1-1 game. Columbus got a 3-on-1, and Nick Foligno set up Dzingel to rip a shot past Georgiev's glove.
Bobrovsky then had to stand tall, as the Zibanejad-Kreider-Pavel Buchnevich line had some good looks moments later. He also made an incredible save with just over eight minutes left on a 3-on-1, as he slid over and got the left pad on a blast by Brett Howden.
Video: CBJ@NYR: Bobrovsky gets across to make great pad stop
It all paid off as Panarin got the big goal with 5:33 left. He took a pass from David Savard entering the zone on the left side, cut to the middle of the ice and unleashed a shot that went bar down over the blocker of Georgiev to give Columbus the 2-1 lead.
The Jackets held the lead until 6.1 seconds remained as, under pressure, a centering feed from the goal line by Buchnevich went off of Bobrovsky's pads and into the net with the Rangers net empty.
In overtime, Bobrovsky made two big early stops on Zibanejad on the rush, while Georgiev made equally fine stops on Werenski and Panarin.
After five scoreless minutes, the game went to a shootout. Bobrovsky stopped Kevin Shattenkirk, Zibenejad and Tony DeAngelo in succession and Panarin scored the lone goal to give the Jackets the win.
By the Numbers
The Blue Jackets had 41 shots on goal. ... Columbus improved to 24-14-2 on the road and now is tied for the second-most road wins in the NHL. The 24 road wins are also a new franchise record. … The Blue Jackets did not have to kill a penalty in the game and went 0-2 on the power play. … The season series ends with Columbus holding a 3-0-1 advantage, and the Jackets are 9-3-1 vs. the Rangers the past three seasons. ... Dzingel now has a 4-8-12 line since joining the Blue Jackets. ... Panarin increased his Jackets-record points mark to 85 this year with the goal. ... Columbus was 1-1 in the shootout entering the game, with the previous loss coming to the Rangers.
Columbus inserted Texier into the lineup in place of Alexander Wennberg but made no changes other than that. Scratches were forwards Wennberg, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak and Eric Robinson; defensemen Adam McQuaid (injury), Andrew Peeke and Adam Clendening; and goaltenders Keith Kinkaid and Elvis Merzlikins.
The Blue Jackets complete the regular season Saturday night at Ottawa with a 7 p.m. start.