Takeaways, as Rangers rout Jackets to set up pivotal clash with Devils.


In their first game since officially securing a playoff spot, the New York Rangers displayed their excitement for the upcoming dance by scoring three goals in the opening eight-minute, before a Vincent Trocheck empty netter completed a 6-2 thumping of the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday in front of a jubilant Madison Square Garden crowd.

The Blueshirts’ victory sets the stage for Thursday’s pivotal showdown against their chief rival, the New Jersey Devils, at the Prudential Center, where second place in the Metropolitan Division will be on the line. With eight games remaining for both teams, the Devils have a two-point lead in the standings, but the Rangers would have the tiebreaker should they win in regulation.

Given the opponent, it would’ve been easy for New York to gloss over the contest, and although it looked like they did at times, their strong finish to this game should get them to Thursday filled with confidence.

After a three-goal afternoon in Saturday’s 4-3 comeback victory at the Florida Panthers, the kid line of Alexis Lafrenire, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko picked up right where they left off and put the Rangers on the board first when Chytil pounced on the loose puck in front of the net and put it past Michael Hutchinson at the 5:23 mark for his third goal and fifth point in the last eight games. They don’t need much,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said.

“We know they’re a dangerous team. If you give them anything off the rush or a turnover, they’ll get a ‘Grade A’ chance, and they made us pay.” The tally kickstarted an excellent night for the trio as they outshot Columbus 12-4, proving the recent notion by fellow Blue Line Station contributor Matthew Tricomi that they will be the x-factor come playoff time.

Our fearless leader Conor Power recently composed a piece asking which of the Rangers’ deadline deals was the best. Honestly, it’s hard to decide between the one with ST Louis(Though the 2024 fourth-round pick the Rangers sent them turned into a 2023 third on Monday night), especially with how both prized possessions have been playing recently.

Entering Tuesday, Vladimir Tarasenko led all players who were traded before the deadline in points with 14(4 goals, ten assists). He extended that lead at 6:50 into the contest, tipping home Braden Schneider’s shot from the end to double his team’s advantage before Patrick Kane’s top-shelf sniper 70 seconds later was good for his third tally in the last five tilts and made it the first time New York’s deadline duo had scored in the same game.

“Both of us want to produce; both of us want to do well here,” Kane said, “It’s nice to be on the same side with him after being in the same division for all those years.”

Needing an insurance marker after two quick Columbus strikes to close out the first period made it a one-goal game.  Artemi Panarin snapped the man-advantage’s 0 for 9-drought by taking a pass from Adam Fox and scoring from the right hashmark to extend the Rangers’ lead. The tally marked the breadman’s eleventh point in his last eight games and the 652nd of his career, which puts him in 300th place on the NHL’s all-time points list.

This “Mika March” mantra isn’t just a phrase; it’s real. With his goal 14:27 into the third period when he deposited Panarin’s cross-ice feed into the net, Zibanejad is up to seven goals and 14 points on the month, with the tally also matching his career high in points at 81(Set last season).

Since the Rangers acquired him from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Derrick Brassard in 2018, Zibanejad has played 71 games in March and has 46 goals and 45 assists for 91 points. Should his team get that far, how about doing the same and birthing “Mika May”?

The Blueshirts still had their fair share of mistakes in this game, but you wouldn’t know it due to the play of Igor Shesterkin.

The netminder recorded his seventh win in his last eight starts and stopped 28 of 30 shots, a flurry of which came in the opening minutes when he was forced to make several ten-bell saves, including containing Adam Boqvist on the game’s first shift and Kent Johnson on the Jackets’ second shift, before flashing the cow on Johnny Gaudreau who was left wide open in front of the net.

The all-star didn’t miss the next time he found himself with time and space, following Kirill Marchenko’s late first-period goal with one of his own, slicing the Jackets’ deficit to 3-2 with 29 seconds to spare. “We could’ve had two, three more in that period,” Johnny hockey said. “We could’ve easily been going into that second period with the lead. It’s unfortunate, but their goalie played well.”

New York’s turnover rate decreased as the game went on, and with it, the offense returned, although being charged with 21 giveaways isn’t the department you’d prefer to be in on Thursday against a Devils team that eats those for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “Sometimes you can look ahead a little bit too much,” Kane said.

“Got a great start; after the little hiccup in the first, we finished off strong.” That includes Shesterkin, who was sharp from the outset and looked to be in premier playoff form. With the grind of an 82-game regular season affecting everyone across the league as it concludes, that’s all the Rangers can ask for.

HONORABLE STAR: Alexis Lafreniere(2 assists, 14:20 of ice time)
3 Mika Zibanejad(1 goal, 1 assist, 1 takeaway,17:52 of ice time)
2 Artemi Panarin(1 goal 1 assist, two takeaways, 17:07 of ice time
1 Igor Shesterkin(28 saves on 30 shots, +0.64 Goals Saved Above Expected).

“Rangers have 11 different players with a point, a nice balance.”- Joe Johns at the end of the second period. The total increased to a dozen(Schneider, Ben Harpur, Panarin, Lafreniere, Trocheck, Chris Kreider, Chytil, K’Andre Miller, Kane, Tarasenko, and Zibanejad) by the game’s end.