Win and in; Blue Jackets take care of business at MSG

With their 3-2 shootout win last night at Madison Square Garden, the Blue Jackets head back to the playoffs.

A trip to the playoffs for the third-straight year was on the minds of the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday night as they took their show on the road, making their final trip to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers. With a chance to clinch the final wild card in the East, and a chance, still, to claim the first wild card, albeit with some help, it couldn’t have been any simpler for the Blue Jackets.

Win and you’re in.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves and Artemi Panarin scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and game-winning goal in the shootout, as the Blue Jackets defeated the Rangers 3-2 on Friday night to advance to the playoffs.

Either team was able to break through in the first period, but both had their chances, particularly the Jackets, including hitting posts and running into key saves by Alexandar Georgiev. The Jackets had 15 of the 21 first period shots. Georgiev made 38 saves.

In the second period, the Rangers converted on the scoreboard first, Chris Kreider scoring his fifth against Columbus, 28th this season. It was the Blue Jackets who nearly put one through at the other end but a quick transition up ice, including a 2-on-1, with Seth Jones left all alone on defense after Cam Atkinson covered for the pinching Zach Werenski along the boards, solved Bobrovsky.

That score stood up through 40, with the Blue Jackets needing to find the equalizer in the final 20 minutes.

From point-blank range 13 seconds into the third period, Panarin was fed the puck by Cam Atkinson from below the goal line, but there Georgiev was with the save. Columbus, though, would finally beat Georgiev with Ryan Dzingel getting his club on the board at 2:26. Nick Foligno did his part to corral the puck and through transition, the Jackets a 3-on-1, and Dzingel the receiver, found the back of the net. The goal was Dzingel’s 26th, and it was the first of two assists for David Savard on the night, as the big d-man continues to provide an offensive spark.

Bobrovsky made his finest save in the third period, stifling Brett Howden and the Rangers’ 3-on-1 surge, with the dive to his left.

Stopped the first time early in the third, this time, Panarin was able to put Columbus ahead for the first time, with a wrist shot that Georgiev was no match for this time.

Looking like the Jackets had this game won, the Rangers’ flurry at the other end, with seconds left, resulted in a puck squirting past Bobrovsky to tie the game at two and force overtime. John Tortorella briefly contemplated challenging for goaltender interference but there was no review attempt.

In overtime, both teams had their chances as the frantic pace of 3-on-3 overtime hockey typically plays out. Either team was able to end things by the end of 65 minutes and the Blue Jackets would head to their third shootout of the season. The Rangers beat them in their first shootout, 5-4, Nov. 10 at Nationwide Arena.

Each team whiffed on their first chance. Panarin, denied the game-winner the first time, found the back of the net in the second round, and Bobrovsky made the save to officially clinch Columbus’ trip to the playoffs for the third-straight season.

Columbus has a chance to clinch the first wild card with a Hurricanes loss, in any form, at the Flyers and a win at the Senators tonight. The Blue Jackets hold the tie-breaker due to ROW.

Alexandre Texier, wearing No. 42, made his NHL debut for the Blue Jackets after being recalled from AHL Cleveland on Thursday. Texier being in the lineup meant Alexander Wennberg sat up in the press box. Texier played 11:49, three SOG, four attempts, two hits. Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev entered play with a shutout streak over 100 minutes, including a 2-0 shutout win last time out against the Flyers Mar. 31. Kreider’s 28th goal ties a career-high set back in 2016-17. Oliver Bjorkstrand saw his six-game goal streak come to an end. The Blue Jackets set a franchise mark with their 24th road victory last night. Zach Werenski has never missed the playoffs in his career, as he and the Jackets celebrate three-straight trips together. The Blue Jackets went 3-0-1 against the Rangers this season, with three of the games being decided in overtime or shootout, and all four games decided by no more than two goals.

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