COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan each scored their 20th goals and had an assist, and the New York Rangers hung on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 Monday night to earn a sixth-consecutive playoff berth.
Dan Boyle and Mats Zuccarello also scored for the Rangers, who snapped a three-game skid and moved three points behind second-place Pittsburgh. They remain two points ahead of the fourth-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.
The Rangers clinched playing down a defenseman most of the way. Captain Ryan McDonagh was injured blocking a shot early in the first period and left the game.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 stops for his 34th win.
Nick Foligno scored twice for Columbus, which pulled within one with 9:15 remaining before conceding an empty-net goal.
The Blue Jackets were again without former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovksy, who was a healthy scratch by coach John Tortorella in favor of impressive rookie Joonas Korpisalo. The 21-year-old made 26 saves.
The Rangers finally got off to a good start, scoring the first two goals of the game. On the attack with speed, Kreider took a drop pass from Stepan – who picked up his 300th career point – in traffic and fired a low shot that Korpisalo couldn’t control. Sliding on his knees and with Dalton Prout on his back, Kreider was able to get the rebound and score on the backhand at 6:17 of the first period.
Early in the second, Columbus had trouble clearing its own zone. The puck came to Boyle and he glided to the net before sneaking a shot under Korpisalo at 5:28 0.
Foligno cut the lead to one at 14:41, deflecting David Savard‘s shot in front of Lundqvist for his first goal in 16 games.
Four minutes later, Kreider forced a turnover to create an odd-man break and found Zuccarello, who scored from the slot for his career-high 26th goal to make it 3-1.
Columbus made it interesting late in the third period when Foligno scored his 11th on a nice individual effort around Kevin Klein before tucking the puck behind Lundqvist with 9:15 remaining.
Zuccarello was sent off for high-sticking Foligno with 2:03 remaining, but Stepan scored into an empty net with 1:11 left to end the Blue Jackets’ comeback bid.
NOTES: The Rangers host Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and then play the visiting Islanders and Detroit to finish the season. … Tortorella also scratched 15-year veteran Scott Hartnell for the third time this season. Hartnell has one goal and is a minus 10 in his last 13 games. … New York swept the four-game season series. … Blue Jackets C Gregory Campbell played his 800th career game. … Lundqvist earned his fourth assist of the season on Kreider’s goal to tie his season high. He has 21 career assists. … Columbus D Cody Goloubef left the game in the first period with an oblique injury.