NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 19:  Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators skates against Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on January 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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Johansen is a ‘little disappointed’ the Blue Jackets didn’t recognize him in return to Columbus

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Ryan Johansen played 309 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets before a blockbuster trade to Nashville last January.

On Sunday, he finally made his return back to Columbus as a member of the Predators. However, he did not receive any sort of tribute whatsoever from the team that originally selected him fourth overall in the 2010 draft, and that is something that apparently bothered him.

“I am a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the Jumbotron and say ‘thank you’ or anything like that,” Johansen told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.”

While Johansen enjoyed some productive seasons with the Blue Jackets, his time in Columbus, particularly his final months, were dogged with contentious headlines about his contract negotiations with the club and then his working relationship with coach John Tortorella.

Johansen, now 24 years old, has nine goals and 40 points in 58 games this season for Nashville. Currently in the final year of his three-year, $12 million contract, he’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

Dubinsky, Blue Jackets get last laugh vs. Crosby and Penguins

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 23:  Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the Columbus Blue Jackets lines up for a face off during the game against the Montreal Canadiens on December 23, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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During the first shift of Friday’s Penguins – Blue Jackets game, Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky battled it out. Dubinsky ended up getting the last laugh with a brilliant overtime game-winner in a thrilling 2-1 overtime win for Columbus.

If you love to dismiss scoring worries by saying that a 2-1 game can be exciting, you might want to bookmark this one.

For one thing, there was that physicality that makes this rivalry something that can build into the disdain between Ohio and Pennsylvania sports teams. There was also some drama, including at least one goal that maybe shouldn’t have been whistled off. Evgeni Malkin also collected his 500th assist while Matt Murray made a brilliant late third period save on Brandon Saad to at least salvage a point for the Penguins.

The two teams combined for almost 80 shots on goal, with a ton of chances coming in regulation. Here’s a pretty, video-game-like way of depicting the action:

Dubinsky’s overtime game-winner ended up being the decisive blow in a game that very well might serve as an enticing appetizer for a first-round series of conference finals quality.

Tremendous stuff. For fans of the Penguins and Blue Jackets, a first-round matchup would be less than welcome. If a series was anything like tonight’s game, it would be must-see TV for the rest of us.

Here’s an updated look at the Metro’s races for the second and third spots:

2. Penguins – 80 points in 57 games (36 wins, 34 ROW)
3. Blue Jackets – 79 points in 57 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Rangers – 75 points in 57 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

The Capitals aren’t totally bulletproof for the division crown, even with 84 standings points, a game in hand and a six-game winning streak in mind. Still, at least tonight, it was tough to shake the mental picture of a possible battle between the Blue Jackets and the Penguins.

Blue Jackets hand Maple Leafs a frustrating loss

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 16:  Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs attempts to check the puck away from Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period on October 16, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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There’s plenty of motivation for the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers in their game tonight, but if the Flyers wanted extra incentive to win, they can thank the Columbus Blue Jackets.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs got back into the game to save some face, the Blue Jackets ultimately took the game 5-2.

With that, Columbus reasserts the Metropolitan Division’s dominance. They tie the Pittsburgh Penguins with 77 standings points, although Pittsburgh is technically ahead in second place thanks to holding a game in hand. Remarkably, the Penguins and Blue Jackets join the Washington Capitals as three of the top four teams in the NHL.

So … yeah, the Metro’s outstanding, but don’t sleep on the wild card races out East.

In that regard, this one stings for Toronto. Again, Philly can virtually tie the Buds if they beat Calgary tonight. (Update: They didn’t, so here’s an updated look.)

Abbreviated look at race for last wild card spot

Last spot: Maple Leafs – 63 points in 56 games

Flyers – 61 points in 57
Islanders – 60 points in 55
Panthers – 58 in 54 (in action later tonight vs. San Jose)
Devils – 58 in 56
Sabres – 58 in 57

High-sticking is the word of the day, so it’s worth mentioning that the Maple Leafs probably missed out on either a two or four-minute power play:

Regardless, Columbus won, making a couple different playoff positioning battles more congested in the process.

Rangers make for muddled Metro by besting Blue Jackets

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The New York Rangers’ winning streak already made for a congested race for the second and third spots in the Metropolitan Division. The picture’s even more muddled after Monday.

Antti Raanta played another great game and the Rangers defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 tonight, giving New York an impressive six-game winning streak.

It also makes for a virtual tie between the Blue Jackets, Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, with games in hand being among the factors separating three teams locked at 75 standings points:

2. Penguins – 75 points in 54 games (34 wins, 32 ROW)
3. Blue Jackets – 75 points in 55 games (35 wins, 33 ROW)

Rangers – 75 points in 56 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

Interestingly, the Rangers and Blue Jackets both get two more games against the Penguins this season … and one more contest versus each other.

Blue Jackets’ remaining games against Penguins:

Feb. 17 in Columbus
April 4 in Pittsburgh

Rangers’ remaining games against Penguins:

March 31 at MSG
April 9 at MSG

Rangers vs. Blue Jackets:

Feb. 26 in Columbus

So, yeah, there are some games in hand differences and other tiebreaker factors, both all three teams seem like they have a real chance at finishing on top in this three-horse race. (Don’t expect any of them to catch the first-place Washington Capitals, though.)

Circling back to Monday’s game, Brandon Dubinsky scored the only goal of the first period. Dan Girardi collected the only tally of the middle frame, and it was a rarity: a shorthanded goal for the occasionally derided defenseman.

Kevin Hayes made it 2-1 with a semi-breakaway, Nick Foligno tied things up with about eight minutes left in the third and then Jimmy Vesey beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a nifty move and from an unusual angle to score the eventual game-winner for the Rangers.

Both teams failed on their power plays (Rangers going 0-for-5; Blue Jackets went 0-for-4), but with that shorthanded goal in mind, Columbus might face some regrets about special teams in particular.

Overall, it was a very close game, which is fitting enough since the playoff races are so close between these marvelous Metro teams.

WATCH LIVE: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31:  Jack Johnson #7 of the Columbus Blue Jackets tries to get past Kevin Klein #8 of the New York Rangers in the first period on January 31, 2016 at Madison Square Garden  in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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More and more, it’s looking like it will be a three-team race for the second and third seeds in the Metropolitan Division, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets jockeying for position.

This makes Monday’s game in Columbus a treat, as the second-place Blue Jackets (75 points in 54 games) host the fourth-ranked Rangers (73 points in 55 games). With Pittsburgh at 75 points in 55 contests, it’s clear that these three teams are running neck-and-neck right now.

The Rangers might just be the hottest of those squads. Henrik Lundqvist just won his 400th game and the team itself is on a five-game winning streak.

Columbus has dealt with some ups and downs, including questions about how players might be interacting with fiery coach John Tortorella. The Blue Jackets beat Detroit 2-1 on Saturday, so maybe they’re on the verge of another run themselves.

You can watch the action on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream.