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Rangers Extend Streak to Six With Win Over Jackets

Vesey Scores in Third, Raanta Makes 30 Saves

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night.

Jimmy Vesey broke a 2-2 tie with 6:32 remaining in the third period and Antti Raanta made 30 saves to record his 10th win of the season and his first since Dec. 29.

The win got the Rangers to 75 points on the season and into a three-way tie with the Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins for second in the Metropolitan Division, though they've played more games than both of those teams.

Video: NYR@CBJ: Vesey scores from the bottom of the circle

With the teams tied, Vesey picked up the puck in the neutral zone and carried it into Columbus territory and went backhand to forehand at the bottom of faceoff dot and beat Sergei Bobrovsky for the winner. It was his first goal since Jan. 31 against these same Blue Jackets.

Former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season 8:12 into the first period.

That lead would hold up until Dan Girardi scored a short-handed goal 12 seconds into the second period to knot the game, 1-1. The goal was the fourth of the season for Girardi, who had missed the last two games with a foot injury.

Video: NYR@CBJ: Hayes steals puck, scores on breakaway

Kevin Hayes put the Rangers ahead for the first time when he picked the pocket of David Savard at center ice and broke in alone and beat Bobrovsky five-hole to put the Rangers up 2-1 at 4:49 of the third period.

"I kind of cheated and thought he was going to go D-to-D so I just guessed and luckily he did," said Hayes, who had an assist on Girardi's goal in the second period. "Got a breakaway, saw the five-hole open up and put it in."

But Columbus would answer on a goal by Nick Foligno with 8:07 remaining in the third, before Vesey's game winner less than two minutes later.

The 23-year-old rookie began the night on the team's fourth line with Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast, but head coach Alain Vigneault made the move to put Vesey with Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad midway through, and it was a decision that proved fruitful. 

Raanta started for the first time since Jan. 14 in Montreal, when he left the game due to an injury. He had made just one relief appearance in that time.

"Really good feeling. We have been working hard in practice and when Hanky is playing that level, it's tough to get games there," Raanta said. "But it was really fun to get there and just play. It's been a long time since I've played last time. I just wanted to get that good feeling going."

Video: NYR@CBJ: Raanta makes two nice saves on Atkinson

The 27-year-old was sharp throughout, including two stops on Columbus' leading scorer Cam Atkinson while on a breakaway. Raanta also made several stops in the final minute with the Blue Jackets' net empty.

"It feels like forever," Raanta said of the game's final minute. "It's always when the other team is pressing a lot and they pretty much throw pucks to the net and hope it bounces somewhere. Our guys were doing a great job there of taking sticks away."

After going nearly a month between starts, Raanta said he was relieved he was able to extend the winning streak, which makes Wednesday's practice all the more better.

"You always want to keep your best and you always want to keep it going. You don't want to be the guy who is ruining in the winning streak," Raanta said with his familiar smile. 

"It was just fun to go there and play the 60 minutes. It was a great ending there. It's nice to get back to work Wednesday."

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