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Atkinson's two goals lead Blue Jackets past Rangers

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Despite missing some key forwards because of injuries, the Columbus Blue Jackets utilized the depth they've developed in recent years to win the first two games of the season for the first time since 2009.

Slovakian rookie Marko Dano is an example of that depth. He scored his first NHL goal and had his first assist to help the Blue Jackets win their home opener 5-2 against the New York Rangers at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

"We did a lot of things at the start of the game that will allow us to have success," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "I like the way we stuck at it out there in all areas."

The Blue Jackets got goals from three lines Thursday in a 3-1 win at the Buffalo Sabres and all four contributed to the scoring against the Rangers (1-1-0). The top line of Cam Atkinson (two goals), Nick Foligno (goal and an assist) and Ryan Johansen (two assists) combined for six points.

"We bring something different, each guy," Atkinson said of his line. "We created a lot of chances for ourselves."

Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell had his second and third assists of the season, and Artem Anisimov scored his second goal of the season early in the first to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead.

Former Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin was plus-5 to set a Blue Jackets record.

"It was tough to see the goals the way they scored them," Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. "That's a good lesson for us. We can't expect to win without playing our 'A' game."

Lee Stempniak and former Columbus captain Rick Nash scored for the Rangers and rookie Anthony Duclair had his first two career assists.

The Blue Jackets have been without Nathan Horton (back) since the start of training camp. Boone Jenner missed the final two preseason games with a broken hand and is expected to be out four more weeks, and Brandon Dubinsky is out indefinitely after having abdominal surgery Wednesday.

Their absences have provided others opportunities. Dano, 19, a first-round pick (No. 27) in the 2013 NHL Draft, scored at 13:47 of the third on a rebound to give the Blue Jackets a 4-1 lead.

"That was a special moment for me," Dano said. "My dad was watching the game in the stands. Also, my girlfriend was here. I'm real happy my dad saw the goal."

Nash scored 32 seconds later in his second appearance in Columbus since being traded in July 2012 to cut the deficit to 4-2.

But Atkinson scored his third goal of the season into an empty net with 1:21 left in the third period to back the 24 saves of Sergei Bobrovsky, who had made a 3-1 lead stand late in the second when he slid right to-left across the crease for a point-blank, left-pad stop on Martin St. Louis after the center took a pass from the right edge by Nash.

Columbus didn't waste time before a sellout crowd of 18,922 to jump on the Rangers when Anisimov and Foligno helped the Blue Jackets take a 2-0 lead in the first period. Stempniak countered early in the second.

"We used the energy of the crowd to motivate us," Foligno said.

Anisimov, a former Rangers forward, scored his second of the season and like his first goal Thursday at Buffalo, Hartnell assisted.

The play developed in the left corner where Dano muscled the puck away from two Rangers. Hartnell picked it up and sent a pass out to Anisimov beyond the left circle for a one-timer that blew past the left glove of backup goaltender Cam Talbot (19 saves).

"There were a lot of 50-50 pucks that they got to," New York coach Alain Vigneault said. "Was that because they were quicker than us? Did they want it more? I can't answer that yet."

The Rangers killed two penalties in the first period to help them improve to 7-for-7 this season. The second penalty came as result of Stempniak taking a charge against Anisimov into the boards at the Rangers bench. Anisimov went to the dressing room briefly before returning.

Stempniak got the Rangers within a goal at 5:43 of the second with a wrist shot that squeezed between Bobrovsky and the right post to make it 2-1. Duclair (No. 80 at the 2013 draft) fed Stempniak for his first NHL point.

Columbus took a 3-1 lead at 9:49 when Atkinson scored his second of the season. Johansen had his third assist of the season by firing a shot from the left point that Foligno tipped across the crease to an open Atkinson.

"They won the net-front battles," Vigneault said. "They got a lot of second opportunities. They were the better team tonight."

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