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game recap

Rangers clinch playoff berth, defeat Blue Jackets

New York advances to sixth straight postseason; McDonagh left after first period with undisclosed injury

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

Rangers clinch playoff berth

NYR@CBJ: Rangers win to clinch playoff berth

4/4/16: The Rangers celebrate clinching their sixth straight playoff berth as the clock winds down in a 4-2 victory against the Blue Jackets

  • 00:44 •

COLUMBUS -- The New York Rangers had no time or reason to do much celebrating after a 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Monday clinched a berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

The status of captain Ryan McDonagh for the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden is in question.

The defenseman did not play the final two periods after he blocked a shot by Brandon Dubinsky at the end of a Columbus power play with five minutes left in the first period. The shot appeared to hit him in the hand or arm, but Rangers coach Alain Vigneault did not provide many details.

"At this time he'll be reevaluated tomorrow," Vigneault said. "We're in that phase here where we're 'upper-body,' 'lower-body,' so we're calling it 'an upper-body.'"

Video: NYR@CBJ: Zuccarello regains his pass to pad the lead

There is a possibility New York (44-26-9) recalls a player from Hartford of the American Hockey League.

"I would say to you were just in the process of discussing that and we'll have answer for you by tomorrow morning," Vigneault said. "But there is a good chance we might call someone up."

New York ended a three-game losing streak to qualify for the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.

"It's a good feeling for sure," defenseman Marc Staal said. "We would have liked to have gotten it done the last couple of games but tonight we got it done. We deserved to get in."

Video: NYR@CBJ: Boyle buries one on a tough angle

The Rangers trail the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins by three points in the Metropolitan Division and are two points ahead of the New York Islanders with three games left.

"We can still work for home ice and that's what we're going to try to do," Vigneault said.

The Rangers have made it to the postseason in 10 of the past 11 seasons, including all three with Vigneault behind the bench.

 "It's tough to get to the dance," Vigneault said. "People don't realize how hard that is to get the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup.

Video: NYR@CBJ: Kreider follows his rebound, nets 20th goal

"We finally got our checkmark. In order for our guys to get the checkmark, you've got to play some good hockey. This group for the most part has played some good hockey."

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves, including 20 in the final two periods, to return to the playoffs.

"It's a great feeling, a proud feeling," Lundqvist said. "It hasn't been pretty at times; at times it's been great. But playing in this League it's a grind and it's about finding ways to win a lot of games."

Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider each had a goal and an assist, and Dan Boyle and Mats Zuccarello scored for the Rangers, who won all four games against the Blue Jackets (31-40-8) this season.

Video: NYR@CBJ: Lundqvist denies Atkinson on the doorstep

Stepan, who got his 300th NHL point on Kreider's goal, scored a shorthanded, empty-net goal with 1:11 remaining.

"It's disappointing," Dubinsky said. "We feel like we can play right there with those guys. We didn't have our best nights against them."

Kreider scored his 20th, one off his career-high set last season, at 6:17 of the first. Stepan and Kreider led a rush up the ice and Kreider was able to follow his own rebound to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

"We weren't that far away in the first period," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It was not so much the speed of it we just weren't generating enough offense."

Video: NYR@CBJ: Foligno finishes nifty move for second goal

Nick Foligno scored twice for the Blue Jackets, his first goals in 16 games since a hat trick vs. the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 25. Foligno has 11 goals after scoring 31 last season.

"He looked like the Nick of old," Dubinsky said.

Foligno was dropped to the fourth line to play with Gregory Campbell and Jared Boll.

"I really enjoyed playing with those two. It's simple, straight ahead," Foligno said. "You simplify your game and sometimes it comes easier to you.

Video: NYR@CBJ: Foligno's redirection trims deficit in half

"I just let everything go tonight, played the game. It felt good. I needed to do that a lot earlier in the year."

Boyle's unassisted goal at 5:28 of the second period, his ninth, snuck between Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, who made 26 saves, and the post from the right circle to make it 2-0.

Columbus made it 2-1 when Foligno scored with 5:19 left in the second after deflecting David Savard's shot.

Zuccarello's 26th came at 18:14 to give New York 3-1 lead. 

Foligno's second of the game at 10:45 of the third period brought Columbus to within 3-2.

Video: Rangers clinch playoff berth with win over Jackets

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