COLUMBUS — Chris Kreider scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:11 left in the third period, and the New York Rangers extended their season-long winning streak to four games with a 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Friday.
Alexandar Georgiev made 36 saves for the Rangers (30-23-4), who are 5-0-1 in the past six games and 11-5-0 in the past 16, including a 4-3 overtime win at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.
“It’s the things we’ve been doing on the road trip that have given us success in our own zone: hard work, standing up guys.” Kreider said. “Knock on wood, we’ve had a really good effort the last few games. We haven’t given up a lot of odd-man rushes.”
Elvis Merzlikins made 25 saves for the Blue Jackets (30-18-11), who are 0-2-2 in the past four games after going 9-0-1. Columbus lost 4-3 in overtime at the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Columbus has been outscored 7-3 in losing its past three home games.
“We’ve got to find a way to be comfortable with the sticks. We’re fighting it a little,” Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand said.
Kreider’s goal, which made it 2-1, came two seconds after a too many men on the ice penalty to the Blue Jackets expired. He scored on a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Mika Zibanejad.
“They tried all game long to pass low, then the slot,” Merzlikins said. “The guy had a good shot and he shoots it well.”
During the Columbus penalty kill, Boone Jenner had a breakaway with 4:44 left but his shot hit the left post.
“I tried to be patient and cover as much net as possible and wait for him to make a move,” Georgiev said. “He made a move to the side; turned out pretty good.”
Pavel Buchnevich gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 22 seconds into the first period with a waist-high redirection from the right face-off dot after a shot by Jacob Trouba. Buchnevich has scored in two straight games and has six goals in the past 10 games.
New York killed a four-minute Columbus power play that began at 7:34 of the second when Buchnevich was called for hooking Zach Werenski and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Blue Jackets got three shots on goal, including a Nick Foligno redirection from the top of the crease that Georgiev saved.
“Obviously when you kill four minutes of a power play your goalie’s got to be big, and he certainly was,” Rangers coach David Quinn said.
Bjorkstrand tied it 1-1 with 1:08 left in the second period. Scott Harrington‘s shot from the left point hit the back of teammate Gustav Nyquist in the left face-off circle. The puck fell to Bjorkstrand and his backhand gave him his 12th goal in his past 13 games.
Ryan Strome scored into an empty net with 1:11 left in the third period for the 3-1 final.
“We just knew it was going to be a tight-checking game,” Quinn said. “You had to play smart. You couldn’t play crazy, take-chances hockey against that team. I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”
They said it
“We’ve been proud of them for a long time now. We think we made some great strides and just continue to play good hockey at a clutch time right now.” — Rangers coach David Quinn
“We’ve been a team that found ways regardless of what was going on. That’s why tonight was disappointing. We probably deserve better.” — Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno
Need to know
Buchnevich is the 20th player this season to score in the opening 22 seconds and the second Rangers player. Zibanejad scored at 10 seconds against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 14. … Kreider has 17 points (11 goals, six assists) in his past 15 games. … Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was plus-1 playing 13:56 after missing one game with the flu. … Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo sustained an undisclosed injury Thursday and was replaced by Brendan Smith. … Blue Jackets forward Jakob Lilja was recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League and replaced Liam Foudy, who returned to London of the Ontario Hockey League. … Merzlikins was the third Blue Jackets goalie to start against the Rangers this season (Joonas Korpisalo on Dec. 5, a 3-2 loss; and Matias Kivlenieks on Jan. 19, a 2-1 win).
Rangers: Host the Boston Bruins on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC)
Blue Jackets: At the New Jersey Devils on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-O, NHL.TV)