Blue Jackets Clinch Final Playoff Spot With Win Against Rangers

Artemi Panarin scored in the shootout and the Columbus Blue Jackets clinched the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 victory against the Rangers on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Ryan Dzingel and Panarin scored in the third period for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots through overtime and all three Rangers attempts in the shootout.

The Blue Jackets, 8-2-2 in their past 12 games, secured their third straight playoff berth and hold the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Columbus pulled to a point behind Carolina for the first wild card heading into the final day of the regular season on Saturday. The Blue Jackets close the season at Ottawa, and the Hurricanes play at Philadelphia.

The Montreal Canadiens could finish with the same point total as Columbus, but the Blue Jackets have more nonshootout wins.

Chris Kreider scored early in the second period and Pavel Buchnevich tied it in the closing seconds of regulation for the Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev finished with 39 saves in the Rangers’ third straight loss and 16th in the past 20 (4-10-6) heading into the finale at Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

After Panarin beat Georgiev in the second round of the shootout, Bobrovsky denied Tony DeAngelo on the Rangers’ last attempt.

With Georgiev pulled for an extra skater, Buchnevich tied it for the Rangers with seven seconds left as his centering pass for Brett Howden went in off Bobrovsky’s left leg for his 21st goal.

Dzingel tied the score 1-1 at 2 minutes 25 seconds of the third period, converting a give-and-go with Nick Foligno on a three-on-one rush for his 26th goal. It came on Columbus’s 28th shot of the game and ended Georgiev’s career-best scoreless streak at 149:23.

Kreider gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 1:47 of the first period with his 28th goal, tying a career high, but it was only his second score in 16 games. The Rangers had several chances to add to their lead, but Bobrovsky stood tall.

Georgiev, stellar in keeping the Blue Jackets scoreless in the first period, when the Rangers were outshot by 15-6, stopped wrist shots by Josh Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois and a tip try by Matt Duchene shortly before Kreider’s goal. He also denied a backhand by Riley Nash from the left side 4:05 into the second period.

Panarin gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead with some nifty puck-handling as he got a pass from David Savard on the left side, passed the puck to himself to get around a defender as he skated to the middle of the ice and beat Georgiev top shelf for his 28th goal with 5:33 left.

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