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(Friday, March 21st)
Final Score: NY Rangers 3, Columbus 1
Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Rick Nash's return to Columbus was a successful one for him and the New York Rangers.
The Rangers scored three times in the third period of Friday's 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets.
There was much hype surrounding Nash's first game as a visitor at Nationwide Arena, but the contest also had playoff implications.
With the win, the Rangers moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of Columbus and one behind second-place Philadelphia. The Blue Jackets, however, have played one fewer game.
Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for New York, which has won three of its last four games.
Sergei Bobrovsky turned away 29 shots in the Blue Jackets' third loss in five games.
"Obviously, disappointed by the result. I thought our guys, under very tough circumstances, played a hard game," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards. "I thought they were physical, they stood up for each other. It wasn't easy. We were right in it all the way to the end."
Already showered with boos, Nash, who was selected first overall by Columbus in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and dealt to the Rangers in July 2012, stoked the fans' ire even more late in the second period.
The former face of the Blue Jackets drove hard to the crease and the puck went into the net after a collision with Bobrovsky at 17:06. The referee immediately waved off the goal, ruling Nash made incidental contact with the Columbus goalie.
Nash then got to his feet and incited a melee by punching Bobrovsky.
Seeking retribution for him going after Bobrovsky, Matt Calvert engaged in fisticuffs with Nash at the start of the third period.
"I wouldn't have expected to push a goalie to start a fight and have a fight myself. I didn't expect that," Nash said when asked about how he thought the game might unfold.
One minute after the fight, the Blue Jackets ended the scoreless stalemate.
The stick of Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot broke and he turned over an ill- advised pass in the New York zone to Nick Foligno, who beat Lundqvist on a wrist shot from the high slot at 1:12.
New York responded 44 seconds later on a goal from Derek Stepan. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh went around the Columbus net and fed Stepan for a shot between the circles that tied the game at 1:56.
Former Blue Jacket Derick Brassard banked a wraparound at the left post in off Bobrovsky for the go-ahead goal at 11:31.
An empty-net goal by Carl Hagelin sealed the win with 38.7 seconds remaining.
The Rangers had a 14-9 shot advantage and frittered away a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 29 seconds in the first period.
Mats Zuccarello and Anton Stralman each had two assists for the Rangers ... New York was 0-for-4 on the power play, while Columbus finished 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
03/21 22:30:01 ET