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game recap

Blue Jackets top Rangers, climb to third in Metropolitan Division

Panarin gets hat trick to help Columbus win ninth straight

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Artemi Panarin scored three goals and had an assist, and the Columbus Blue Jackets moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with their ninth straight win, 5-3 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

The Blue Jackets (41-28-5) are one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, who lost 5-4 in a shootout at the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. Columbus is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 87 points, but the Penguins hold the tiebreaker, having played one fewer game.

Alexander Wennberg and Markus Nutivaara scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have outscored opponents 38-22 during the streak. Bobrovsky is 6-0-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average in his past six starts.


[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Rangers highlights]


"[Bobrovsky] is the backbone of the team and he always gives us an opportunity when we're not dead-on or have lulls in our game," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "That's the most important position in the game. If teams get in [the playoffs], they're going to go on the shoulders of their goalie, and we have one of the better ones."

Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored, and Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves for the Rangers (32-33-8), who trail the New Jersey Devils by 10 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

"They play a hard, simple game," Zibanejad said. "We give them a little too much room, space and time, and they're going to cash in on their chances. Unfortunately, we weren't able to play them as good and hard as we wanted to."

Video: CBJ@NYR: Wennberg tallies from the high slot

Panarin scored his second of the game after finding a loose puck underneath Lundqvist and lifting it just inside the left post for a 4-2 lead at 11:19 of the third period. Kreider scored a power-play goal at 18:08 with Lundqvist pulled for a 6-on-4 advantage to pull the Rangers within 4-3.

Panarin completed his hat trick into an empty net with 1.7 seconds remaining for a 5-3 lead.

"I'm enjoying every moment of the season," Panarin said through an interpreter. "This crew is young and that brings some energy. I don't know what percentage I'm enjoying [the season], but so far, so good."

Said Tortorella: "The teams that end up being there at the end of the year have a game-breaker and a guy who relishes being in those situations. A guy who wants the puck in key situations. We're fortunate we have one."

Nutivaara gave the Blue Jackets a 3-1 lead off a wrist shot from the slot at 4:05 of the third period before Zibanejad scored a power-play goal to pull the Rangers within 3-2 at 7:16.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Nutivaara joins the rush to bury wrist shot

Columbus took a 2-0 lead when Panarin scored at 9:28 of the second period. Hayes scored his first shorthanded goal of the season off a breakaway at 13:44 to cut the lead to 2-1.

"[The streak] is a cool feather in the cap but right now all we care about is getting into the playoffs," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "I'm not taking anything away from what we've done here, but we know that it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things."

Video: CBJ@NYR: Zibanejad scores PPG in 400th NHL game

Wennberg gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead off a wrist shot from between the circles at 14:05 of the first period.

Panarin has 10 goals in eight career games against the Rangers, including his only other NHL hat trick (Feb. 17, 2016).


Goal of the game

Panarin's second goal, at 11:19 of the third period.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Panarin cashes in on Lundqvist's miscue


Save of the game

Bobrovsky stops Hayes at 4:54 of the third period.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Bobrovsky snares Hayes' chance down low


Highlight of the game

Hayes scores shorthanded at 13:44 of the second period.

Video: Dunkin Donuts Breakaways: Hayes' shorthanded goal


They said it

"As a coach, you have expectations all the time on who you think should be dead-on all the time, but I've got to be really careful with my frustration when things aren't going well for the key guys on our team because they're not going to be perfect. I just liked the way we worked through it tonight." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella


"It might not always be evident but I think we are making strides. We are doing a lot better job of advancing pucks through the neutral zone and making the defense turn, making teams play defense in their own end." -- Rangers forward Chris Kreider

Video: CBJ@NYR: Kreider earns PPG on impeccable tip in


Need to know

Foligno had two assists to give him 400 NHL points. … The Blue Jackets win streak, the longest active streak in the NHL, is their longest since they won 16 in a row from Nov. 29, 2016 to Jan. 3, 2017. … Panarin has 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in his past 16 games. ... Zibanejad, who played his 400th NHL game, has nine points (six goals, three assists) during a four-game point streak. … The Rangers were 2-for-4 on the power play and have scored at least one power play goal in each of the past four games (6-for-12). Lundqvist was able to finish the game after Rangers defenseman John Gilmour and Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert collided into him in the high slot late in the third period.


What's next

Blue Jackets: Host the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Rangers: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, MSG, NHL.TV)


Video: Panarin earns hat trick as Jackets win ninth straight

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