But Thursday night's 4-2 win over the New York Rangers provided a
confidence booster against a division rival on the road.
The Blue Jackets moved over this season from the Central Division of
the Western Conference, where they finished in fourth place and out
of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row last season.
Columbus received goals from four different players to help it
improve its division record to 5-6 and draw even with the Rangers at
31 points apiece.
Coach Todd Richards' team is now tied for ninth with the Rangers in
the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers (15-17-1) dropped their third straight during a
franchise-record, nine-game homestand. New York has been outscored
15-7 in the three games.
"When you have a challenge generating some offense and when you
aren't scoring any goals, that's why you have a record like that,"
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
Columbus (13-15-3) won for the fourth time in its last five games.
Left winger Matt Calvert, center Ryan Johansen, former Ranger Artem
Anisimov and defenseman David Savard scored for the Blue Jackets.
Savard's first goal of the season provided his team with a 3-0 lead
at 11:10 of the first period.
The Rangers narrowed the gap when center Mats Zuccarello found a
streaking Dan Girardi just inside the Columbus zone and the
defenseman scored on a one-timer at 11:07 of the third period to
draw the Rangers to 3-2.
But the Blue Jackets put the game out of reach on Johansen's
team-leading 11th goal of the season at 18:28 of the third period.
"I don't know how many players were playing at Madison Square Garden
for the first time tonight," said Richards, whose squad averages
25.6 years old. "Getting familiar with the buildings, the
opposition, the players, the cities, there is something to that.
"We were comfortable in the West because we knew the cities, we knew
the travel and the arenas. You come over here (Eastern Conference),
it's a change you have to get comfortable with."
Columbus successfully killed off three penalties in the second
period. New York managed just two shots on its power-play chances.
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Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney suffered a lower-body
injury in the first period. He was replaced at the start of the
second by Mike McKenna, who was making his first appearance in
the net for Columbus since a promotion from Springfield of the
AHL on Dec. 4.
Columbus was already thin at the position with Sergei Bobrovsky
on injured reserve.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was pulled at 11:10 of the first
period in favor of Cam Talbot after Savard gave Columbus a 3-0
"The biggest thing for me now is believing in what I do and
staying confident," Lundqvist said. "Confidence is such an
important thing in this game and right now it's not very high."
The Rangers were unable to clear the puck out of the zone and
Savard skated in from the top of the slot to score just the
third in his 58-game NHL career.
Anisimov registered his eighth goal of the season when Lundqvist
was slow to react to a shot from left winger Blake Comeau.
Anisimov deposited the puck into an open net.
Calvert gave Columbus a quick 1-0 lead just 38 seconds into the
game. He received a pass from right winger Cam Atkinson just
inside the Rangers blue line, blew past defenseman Anton
Stralman and fired a wrist shot over Lundqvist's shoulder for
his fourth goal of the season.
New York center Dominic Moore scored on the backhand at 14:08
after McElhinney stopped Brad Richards' shot. Richards had five
of the Rangers' 16 first-period shots on goal.
NOTES: In an effort to add toughness to their defense, the
Rangers called up Dylan McIlrath from Hartford of the AHL. In 24
games with Hartford, McIlrath accumulated 115 penalty minutes.
New York's first-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft was
paired with D John Moore. ... Rangers captain, RW Ryan Callahan,
is out for four weeks with a sprained MCL sustained Tuesday
night against Nashville. ... Columbus LW Nick Foligno is second
in the league in shooting percentage at .225. He has scored nine
goals on 40 shots. ... The Rangers have held opponents to two or
fewer goals in 17 of the last 26 games. ... New York is tied for
second in the NHL with four shutouts.
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