After a sluggish first game and an improved second, the Rangers' top line of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello created chances and played a better game as a unit in the 5-2 victory over the Blue Jackets in the team's home opener Saturday night.
Although Zuccarello scored twice Friday, both were unassisted. Saturday night, Brassard won 12 of 17 faceoffs and scored his first of the season late in the second on a power play, getting a whack at a pass into the slot from Dan Boyle that trickled past Sergei Bobrovsky.
Nash had four goals in his first three games last season and hasn't found the net through three this season, but he played a strong game. During a penalty kill in the first with Dominic Moore in the box, Nash was hooked on a breakaway attempt by Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray at 17:09, but Bobrovsky stopped Nash's low wrister on the ensuing penalty shot.
Hayes hurt, returns
Midway through the first period, Kevin Hayes, who drove the net to force a Bobrovsky skate save that led to Lindberg's first goal, was blindsided by Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson and left to have his leg examined by trainer Jim Ramsay in the dressing room. But Hayes, who has points in all three games, returned soon after.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault tweaked his lineup for the third game of the season, inserting Tanner Glass on the fourth line for winger Jesper Fast. Glass played 12:19, delivered seven hits and had two shots. Spare defenseman Dylan McIlrath sat for the third consecutive game, as did forward Emerson Etem . . . Vigneault said this about Oscar Lindberg: "I don't think he's going to continue on an 80-goal pace. Players go through these stretches." . . . The Rangers were 4-for-5 on the penalty kill for the second consecutive game . . . Keith Yandle had two assists.