Rangers fall flat, beaten down by upstart Blue Jackets 5-3

Rangers fall to Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner, left, controls the puck in front of New York Rangers defenseman Zac Jones, center, and defenseman Braden Schneider during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Boone Jenner scored a natural hat trick and Columbus gave Pascal Vincent his first coaching victory by beating the New York Rangers 5-3 Saturday night for the Blue Jackets’ first win this season.

Rookie David Jiricek and Justin Danforth also scored for Columbus, which opened with a 4-2 loss at home to Philadelphia on Thursday night. Johnny Gaudreau and Ivan Provorov each added two assists.

Elvis Merzlikins stopped 24 shots before leaving the game with an illness after the second period. Spencer Martin came in for the last 20 minutes and stopped 15 shots in his Columbus debut.

Erik Gustafsson had a goal and an assist, and Will Cuylle and Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers. Adam Fox had two assists and Igor Shesterkin made 16 stops.

The Rangers looked ready to dominate early, scoring 50 seconds in when Gustafsson’s centering pass went off a Blue Jackets player’s skate through traffic and slid past Merzlikins on his glove side.

Columbus tied it at 9:26 when Jenner buried a feed in the slot from Gaudreau. The Blue Jackets took the lead with 2:15 left in the opening period when Jenner tipped Gaudreau’s shot for Columbus’ first power-play goal of the season.

There were also three near goals in the first period. The Rangers had two waved off for offsides at 9:14 and 14:36, and Patrik Laine’s shot at 7:24 trickled halfway over the goal line before being pulled out by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.

Jenner brought the hats flying from the stands when he tipped Jake Bean’s shot with 7:30 left in the second period to make the score 3-1.

Jiricek increased Columbus’ lead to 4-1 over a minute later with a snipe from the right circle for his first NHL goal since being selected sixth overall by Columbus in the 2022 draft.

The Rangers cut the lead in half with Cuylle’s score at 10:53 of the third, but Danforth restored the three-goal advantage with 4:06 remaining.

Krieder’s power-play goal with 36 seconds left capped the scoring.

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