If so, saying it could be an intense series is an understatement.
The Rangers prevailed 3-1 before a soldout crowd of 18,513 in
Nationwide Arena on Thursday, scoring three third-period goals after
falling behind 1-0 and emerging from a nasty, physical game with two
Center Derek Stepan, center Derick Brassard and left winger Carl
Hagelin scored for the Rangers, while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
made 25 saves.
Each club was penalized with three roughing minors and two fighting
majors, but the game felt like a tinder box.
It marked the return of Rangers right winger Rick Nash to Columbus
roughly 20 months after he was traded by the Blue Jackets in the
blockbuster trade of 2012.
"It was a playoff atmosphere," said Nash, who spent the first 10
years of his career in Columbus. "They showed up. It was a fun one
to be a part of.
"The emotion ramped up when we landed on Wednesday. It was a great
game, a lot of fun, but I'm glad it's over. I didn't expect to shove
a goalie and get into a fight. I didn't expect that."
It was a joyful return, but only for the first seven minutes of the
Once the Blue Jackets paid tribute to their former captain on the
scoreboard during the first TV timeout, the game took a nasty turn
and Nash was the focal point of the crowd's energy.
With 2:54 remaining in the second period, Nash came hard to the net
and crashed into Bobrovsky just after flipping the puck off his
The goal was immediately disallowed on the ice by referee Eric
Furlatt, who ruled that Bobrovsky made the initial save and only
lost control of the puck after Nash crashed into him.
Only then did the situation get really interesting.
As Nash went to retrieve his stick, Bobrovsky reached down with his
stick and lifted it toward the Rangers forward, only to flip it away
from Nash when he reached for it.
Nash gave Bobrovsky a two-hand punch in the face, and the scene
nearly erupted into a melee, with all five players on each side
squaring off with a partner.
"I go to reach for my stick and he flips it," Nash said. "You have
to own up when you do something like that."
Nash and left winger Chris Kreider were given roughing minors, as
was Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov.
The nastiness spilled into the third period, too. On the opening
faceoff, Nash and Blue Jackets left winger Matt Calvert got tangled
up. When they separated, the gloves came off, with Nash landing the
only punches of the fight.
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Asked what set him off with Calvert, Nash responded: "The two
crosschecks to the head, the slew foot and the fact that he said he
was coming at me no matter what. That was enough to set me off."
Calvert said he was simply seeking revenge for Nash's punch to
"He took a cheap shot on our goalie and we didn't have a chance to
step in because the linesman stepped it," Calvert said. "He had to
pay for what he did. It was a gutless move."
In between, hockey was played.
The Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead at 1:12 of the third period when
Foligno picked off a sloppy pass from Rangers winger Benoit Pouliot
in the high slot. With no Rangers player in sight, Foligno skated in
on Lundqvist and scored over his right shoulder.
The Rangers were not down for long. Only 44 seconds later, Stepan
took a pass in the high slot and scored when his shot deflected off
the leg of Anisimov.
Brassard scored at 11:31 of the third to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead
and Hagelin scored an empty-net goal with 38.7 seconds to go to cap
NOTES: The Blue Jackets made a healthy scratch of RW R.J. Umberger
for a second straight game. On Thursday in Montreal, Columbus coach
Todd Richards said he thinks Umberger has "more to give." Umberger
had never been a healthy scratch prior to the last two games. ...
The Rangers have five former Blue Jackets players — RW Rick Nash, C
Derick Brassard, RW Derek Dorsett, D John Moore and D Anton Stralman — and former Jackets head coach Scott Arniel. The Blue Jackets have
three former Rangers — C Brandon Dubinsky, C Artem Anisimov and D
Fedor Tyutin. ... Dorsett was expected to be a healthy scratch for
the Rangers, but went into the lineup in place of RW Dan Carcillo.
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