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Rangers host Blue Jackets as Nash faces former team

by Tal Pinchevsky

BLUE JACKETS (13-15-3) at RANGERS (15-16-1)


Last 10: Columbus 6-4-0; New York 4-5-1

Season series: This is the second of four games between the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets. New York won 4-2 in Columbus on Nov. 7. Rangers forward Rick Nash will play his former team for the first time, and former Rangers forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since being traded for Nash in July 2012. Former Rangers star Marian Gaborik, sent to Columbus at the NHL Trade Deadline last season, remains out with a sprained knee.

Big story: Columbus has gone 2-1-0 since losing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a groin strain, the loss coming in a closely contested game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. New York has gone 1-3-1 in December, including 0-2-1 on their franchise-record nine-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: Columbus allowed two combined goals in their first three games this month. But at home against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, Columbus got caught up in a high-scoring, back-and-forth game against another team that has struggled to score this season.

Columbus overcame a 3-1 second-period deficit and tied the game when Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson scored 49 seconds apart. Matt Calvert gave the Blue Jackets the lead 18 seconds into the third, but the Devils forward Damien Brunner tied the game 4-4 with 6:01 remaining. Nick Foligno tipped Ryan Johansen's feed past Martin Brodeur with 1:31 remaining for a 5-4 win.

"Tonight was a game where the hockey gods helped us out a little bit," coach Todd Richards said.

Another player sent to Columbus in the Nash trade, defenseman Tim Erixon, was called up from the American Hockey League on Monday but was a healthy scratch Tuesday.

Rangers: New York stumbled over the first third of a nine-game homestand they hoped would help them create separation from the teams below them in the Metropolitan Division. Citing a lack of competitiveness, coach Alain Vigneault placed recent AHL call-up forward Arron Asham in the lineup Tuesday along with forward Derek Dorsett, who had a wrist injury, and forward Dominic Moore, who was a healthy scratch Saturday in a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.

New York didn't mount much of an attack against the Nashville Predators. Nash's highlight-reel goal in the second cut the Predators' lead to 2-1, but the Rangers would get no closer as Nashville's forecheck kept New York on its heels much of the night.

Before that game, Vigneault revealed defenseman Marc Staal was out indefinitely with a concussion sustained against New Jersey. Midway through the first period, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan suffered a knee sprain and is out 4-6 weeks.

Who's hot: Dubinsky and Atkinson had four-point nights against the Devils. Foligno has three goals in his past four games. … Rangers forward Brad Richards has three goals and eight points in his past eight games.

Injury report: Columbus is missing defenseman James Wisniewski (upper body) and forwards Nathan Horton (shoulder surgery), Cody Bass (thumb) and Jared Boll (foot). … Derick Brassard (lower body), Callahan and Staal are out for New York.

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