It was an unexpected display of fireworks: three power-play goals in 6:17 of the third period. The surging Rangers hadn’t exploded like that in any period since Jan. 3, 2015.
With those daggers from every angle from the first unit of Kevin Shattenkirk, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich and Mats Zuccarello, the Rangers extended their season-high winning streak to four games Monday night, rallying to overtake the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-3, at the Garden.
“When all five guys touch the puck, great things happen,” Ryan McDonagh said.
The Rangers began the third period trailing 2-1 but Shattenkirk scored at 5:10, Kreider at 9:40 and Buchnevich at 11:27, victimizing Sergei Bobrovsky, who outplayed Henrik Lundqvist in the first 40 minutes. Zibanejad assisted on all three goals.
Michael Grabner’s empty-netter — he poked the puck ahead and flew past Zach Werenski for his second goal of the night — made it 5-3 with 48.8 seconds left.
“There’s no question about why we won this game,” Lundqvist said. “The power play stepped up big-time for us. When they make the other team play that fast, it’s almost like you get that goal but you also get a lot of confidence for the group. It’s tough for them [opponents] to rebound from that.”
The Rangers (7-7-2) pulled into a 2-2 tie when, with Artmei Panarin in the box for high-sticking McDonagh, Shattenkirk fired from the middle with Kreider screening in front. The shot appeared to graze Boone Jenner and change direction, and it went past Bobrovsky’s outstretched glove.
Jenner jarred Lundqvist in front and Oliver Bjorkstrand put a loose puck past him at 8:01 to give Columbus a 3-2 lead. But Zac Dalpe retaliated for Steven Kampfer’s hit with an elbow at 9:37, and the Rangers tied it again. Right off the faceoff, Buchnevich’s slap shot hit Ryan Murray in front and dropped to the ice. Kreider pounced and beat Bobrovsky to make it 3-3.
After David Savard’s trip gave the Rangers another power play, Zibanejad won the faceoff and later got the puck down low on the left side. His backhand, cross-ice pass found Buchnevich all alone on the right side for a 4-3 lead as the Garden rocked.
“We all have to be shooters first,” Shattenkirk said. “That’s the first thing we tell each other. That play for Buch’s goal, that only opens because of the first couple. We’re simplifying it . . . I’m getting very clear lanes because everyone is shielding over to Mika because he is such a threat . . . We’re not doing anything crazy, but when we’ve got those weapons, we know we have to use them.”
Columbus scored twice in a 4:24 span in the second period before the Rangers got within 2-1 on Grabner’s sixth goal in the last six games. He pushed Jack Johnson away from the crease and a prone J.T. Miller, one-handed, swept the puck toward the net before Grabner jammed it through the wickets at 12:41.
The Rangers were on their toes in the first period, but Bobrovsky was up to the task. Then the penalties the Jackets took proved to be their downfall.
“When you take stupid penalties, you don’t kill them off,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “We’re a dumb hockey team tonight. We [expletive] one away.”