COLUMBUS, Ohio - With three goals in a 77-second span late in the third period, the Rangers rallied for their second consecutive win to open the season, stunning the Blue Jackets, 4-2, on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Rookie Oscar Lindberg tied the score at 2-2, beating Sergei Bobrovsky at 17:24 from the right side. Kevin Hayes followed that with a sharp-angle, short-side goal from the blue line 17 seconds later and Mats Zuccarello's second of the night, a wrister over Bobrovsky's glove, sealed the comeback at 18:41.
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"I was trying to shoot as fast as I could," Lindberg said. "We had to fight for every inch of the ice."
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist said of Lindberg: "He's been around here in camps the last couple years; you notice how smart he is with the puck. But this year I feel like the way he can shoot the puck, the way he can read a goalie, he's really good in front of the net.''
It was the first time that the Rangers have won their first two regular-season games since 2008-09.
It looked shaky for the Rangers after Brandon Saad put Columbus ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal on a wrister at 16:10 of the third with Ryan McDonagh in the box.
The Rangers' penalty kill was 4-for-4 before Saad's goal. "We lost the lane a little bit and they had a great screen in front of Hank," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
"If you look at the goals, it was just some quick plays and we took advantage of some mistakes," Lundqvist said. "I have to admit I didn't have a good feeling after they scored that [power-play] goal late in the game. They looked very confident."
"We did it a lot last year," Dan Girardi said. "Hank keeps us in the game, different guys step up every night. You know [Columbus] is going to come out hard every time. They made some runs and we just took it. We had a couple chances and buried them, although, yeah, Hayes' goal was a lucky one."
Vigneault was concerned about having only 25 shots on goal and his players "not wanting to shoot the puck as much as I would want, especially on the rush. There were a couple instances where we had great opportunities to get it on net, and we wanted that extra pass. [Hayes' bad-angle goal] was a great example of 'sometimes you've just got to throw it on net.' And it ended up being the winning goal."
J.T. Miller said of Lindberg's tying goal: "We knew that was probably our last shift and we wanted to make something happen. It was an unfortunate penalty [to McDonagh], but anything can happen when you get pucks to the net."
Lundqvist finished with 31 saves, Bobrovsky with 21.
With the score tied at 1 early in the third period, the Rangers finished off their fourth penalty kill and Lundqvist gloved Kevin Connauton's low fastball from the left point for his 26th save.
The entire game was a hard-hitting affair. McDonagh took umbrage with Nick Foligno in the crease, and then Dalton Prout sent Jarret Stoll flying at the other end.
With the Rangers leading 1-0 on Zuccarello's late first-period goal, the Blueshirts had to kill two early penalties in the second -- Jesper Fast's slash at 1:20 and Dan Boyle's trip at 4:09. The Blue Jackets were playing with 11 forwards because Alexander Wennberg did not return after an upper-body injury in the first.
The play was fairly even until Derick Brassard couldn't control a pass in the offensive zone and fell reaching for the puck. Brandon Dubinsky recovered and found Cam Atkinson with a pass up ice. Atkinson sped in, deked Lundqvist and scored at 10:59 to tie it at 1.