COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Igor Shesterkin stopped all 20 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and 11th of his career, and the New York Rangers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Saturday night.
Jimmy Vesey, Chris Kreider, Niko Mikkola and Vincent Trocheck scored, and Mika Zibanejad added two assists for the Rangers, who pulled two points behind New Jersey for second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Devils played at Boston on Saturday night.
“It’s our last game on the road until the playoffs, so it was good to play well on the road,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “I thought tonight was just a good, solid effort. It wasn’t a high-intense game, but it was exactly what we needed.”
Michael Hutchinson stopped 24 shots while appearing in his 150th NHL game for Columbus, which has lost six of its last seven games and remained tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the fewest points in the NHL with 56.
“They hold on to the puck - they make you defend a lot,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “It’s hard to create when they’re holding on and they won’t give it back. Three or four goals, we turned the puck over. You can’t do that against that group. They’re very dangerous.”
Despite being outshot 12-9, the first period belonged to the Rangers who had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, courtesy of Vesey at 10:08 and Kreider 1:41 later.
After a scoreless second period in which the Rangers outshot Columbus 11-2, Mikkola put New York up by three goals five minutes into the third period with his first goal in 109 games dating back to Jan. 15, 2022.
Trocheck notched the game's final goal with 20 seconds left.
“We’re trying to get ready for the playoffs and create good habits," Zibanejad said. "But also winning keeps the mood up, and that’s what we're trying to do the next two games here.”
Shesterkin, who has won has won 10 of his last 12 starts, has 37 wins on the year, tied with his former backup Alexandar Georgiev for the second most in the NHL.
Columbus was shut out for the eighth time this season and fourth at home, including two of its last three games at Nationwide Arena.
New York is the only team in the NHL to have a perfect record - 33-0-0 - when scoring four or more goals.
UP YOU GO
The Blue Jackets added defensemen Marcus Bjork and David Jiricek, and forwards Trey Fix-Wolansky and Joona Luoto, to the roster on emergency recall from AHL Cleveland.
Patrick Kane returned to the Rangers lineup after missing two games with a hip injury, notching an assist on Mikkola’s goal.
With his assists, Zibanejad extended his point streak to four games.
Eric Robinson left the game in the second period after colliding with Mikkola in the neutral zone and did not return. Mikkola was initially assessed a five-minute penalty on the play but it was quickly overturned by the officials.
New York: Hosts Buffalo on Monday night.
Columbus: At Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
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