COLUMBUS, Ohio — Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan scored third-period goals, and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves to lead the Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Friday night.
It was the first game back in Columbus for Rangers star Rick Nash — the Blue Jackets' former captain and franchise leader in goals, assists and games — since his July 2012 trade to New York after he asked to be moved.
Nash was given a standing ovation during a video tribute in the first period but was booed loudly and long after a second-period, two-handed shove up high on Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky after Bobrovsky pushed Nash's stick away from him.
Carl Hagelin added an empty-net goal and defenseman Anton Stralman had two assists for the Rangers, who took a tighter hold on the third and final automatic playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Nick Foligno scored for Columbus, 7-2-2 in its past 11 games and fighting with division rival New York for the third playoff spot. Both teams entered with 78 points. The loss had the Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference's second wild-card playoff spot.
Most of the capacity crowd of 18,513 gave Nash a standing ovation during the video tribute; some boos were heard.
The good will evaporated in the second period after Nash rushed the net and had a goal disallowed for interfering with Bobrovsky. As Nash went to get his stick, Bobrovsky picked it up with his stick and dropped it as Nash reached for it. Nash hit Bobrovsky high with both hands. That touched off five two-man scuffles and sent Nash to the box for roughing. When the cameras showed him in the penalty box, the majority of the crowd booed loudly.
The crowd roared early when Nash was hit and dumped to the ice by center Ryan Johansen.
Ranger has sore neck: Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger has a sore neck after being from behind into the end boards by the Lightning's Alex Killorn on Wednesday and is day to day, he said. Ranger, who was taken off the Air Canada Centre ice on a stretcher and to a Toronto hospital, said he immediately felt neck pain and went into "preservation mode." He said Killorn had reached out to him but didn't want to give details. The former Lightning player said he doesn't believe Killorn attempted to hurt him. "My friends that I know close in Tampa say that he is a pretty good person, never really means to hurt anybody," Ranger said.
Around the league: Penguins forward James Neal was fined $5,000 for cross-checking Red Wings forward Luke Glendening in the head Thursday. Neal was assessed a minor penalty for cross-checking. … Red Wings forward David Legwand was fined $5,000 for hitting Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin in the groin with the butt end of his stick Thursday. Legwand got a major penalty and a game misconduct for butt-ending.
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First Period—None. Penalties—McDonagh, NYR (high-sticking), 8:09; Pouliot, NYR, major (fighting), 11:42; MacKenzie, Clm, major (fighting), 11:42; Horton, Clm (roughing), 16:56; Tyutin, Clm (cross-checking), 18:27.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Prout, Clm (boarding), 7:20; Tyutin, Clm (hooking), 12:38; Nash, NYR (roughing), 17:06; Kreider, NYR (roughing), 17:06; Anisimov, Clm (roughing), 17:06.
Third Period—1, Columbus, Foligno 18, 1:12. 2, N.Y. Rangers, Stepan 14 (McDonagh, Stralman), 1:56. 3, N.Y. Rangers, Brassard 16 (Stralman, Zuccarello), 11:31. 4, N.Y. Rangers, Hagelin 17 (Zuccarello, Staal), 19:21 (en). Penalties—Nash, NYR, minor-major (roughing, fighting), :12; Calvert, Clm, minor-major (roughing, fighting), :12; Stralman, NYR (tripping), 3:32. Shots on Goal—N.Y. Rangers 14-12-6—32. Columbus 9-6-11—26. Power-play opportunities—N.Y. Rangers 0 of 4; Columbus 0 of 3. Goalies—N.Y. Rangers, Lundqvist 27-22-4 (26 shots-25 saves). Columbus, Bobrovsky 27-18-4 (31-29).