Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets blank Rangers
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Goals have been hard to come by lately for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but it doesn’t matter when a team has a goaltender playing as well as Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky was outstanding again and the offensively challenged Blue Jackets won their third straight game, holding off the New York Rangers for a 2-0 victory on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Zach Werenski and Artemi Panarin each scored a goal for the Blue Jackets (12-7-1) and Bobrovsky finished with 36 saves in his second shutout of the season and the 21st of his career.
Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand each had an assist for the Blue Jackets.
In the Blue Jackets’ last three wins, all with Bobrovsky minding the net, he has given up a combined two goals in a shootout, an overtime game and Friday night’s shutout.
“He’s been there for the past few games,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “Just not a lot of run support. What can you say? He wins the Vezina last year. He is what he is. He is that good.”
Henrik Lundqvist was nearly as good as Bobrovsky in goal. The Rangers goalie stopped 40 shots.
“I thought he played well,” Lundqvist said of Bobrovsky. “But we really didn’t test him that much. We didn’t create the big chances. To beat him obviously you need to make it really tough on him and be in his face.”
The Rangers (9-9-2) lost their second straight after a six-game win streak ended Wednesday night in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. They also were 0 of 3 on their suddenly struggling power play, which had been so good until the last two games.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We’re going into the third in a tough building against a good team. We’re only down by one goal. We’ve had some good looks. We haven’t been able to beat their goaltender.
“And then we made a bad mistake on the penalty kill on a puck that should have been down the ice. Instead of being a one-shot game now it’s a two-shot game against a goaltender that’s obviously got his game tonight. That make it pretty hard.”
Vigneault was referring to Panarin’s power-play goal at 7:14 of the third period that gave the Blue Jackets a two-goal cushion. His laser shot beat Lundqvist glove side for his fourth goal of the season.
The Blue Jackets entered the game with the worst power play in the league but went 1 of 3.
“I thought tonight we got back to who we needed to be a little bit more,” Dubinsky said. “Now it’s just about trying to be consistent with it. You can see what we can do.”
New York pulled Lundqvist with more than three minutes remaining in an attempt to close the gap but failed to put one past Bobrovsky.
“In the end, when a goalie is playing well like that, we try and emphasize making it hard on him and putting bodies in front of him,” Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “At the same time, we have to create shooting lanes. They did a good job of blocking shots.”
Werenski’s sixth goal of the season was the first of the game at 13:34 of the second period. Dubinsky made a beautiful move to avoid a defender and sent a setup pass to the skilled defenseman Werenski, who went top shelf with the one-timer past Lundqvist’s blocker.
Werenski had scored the game-winner in overtime on Tuesday in the Blue Jackets’ 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
“I thought we played well,” Werenski said. “That was the game we needed. That was the team we are. It was a huge game for us. We’re going to look to continue that moving forward.”
NOTES: RW Cam Atkinson signed a seven-year, $41.125 million contract extension with the Blue Jackets on Friday. The 28-year-old has four goals and two assists this season. He scored a career-high 35 goals last season. ... Blue Jackets C Zac Dalpe was activated from injured reserve and sent to Cleveland of the American Hockey League. Dalpe has missed the past four games with an upper-body injury. He has 13 penalty minutes in 10 games this season. ... Rangers D Brendan Smith returned to the lineup after sitting out six games as a healthy scratch. Smith signed a four-year, $17.4 contract this summer but has dressed for only 12 of New York’s 20 games. ... Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist made his eighth straight start.