COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Boone Jenner scored a natural hat trick and Columbus gave Pascal Vincent his first coaching victory by beating the New York Rangers 5-3 Saturday night for the Blue Jackets' first win this season.
Rookie David Jiricek and Justin Danforth also scored for Columbus, which opened with a 4-2 loss at home to Philadelphia on Thursday night. Johnny Gaudreau and Ivan Provorov each added two assists.
Elvis Merzlikins stopped 24 shots before leaving the game with flu-like symptoms after the second period. Spencer Martin came in for the last 20 minutes and stopped 15 shots in his Columbus debut.
“We managed the game really well the first two periods,” Vincent said. “It got a little tight in the third but it’s a process. Earning our win, bouncing back from a loss, I really liked our response.”
Erik Gustafsson had a goal and an assist, and Will Cuylle and Chris Kreider also scored for the Rangers. Adam Fox had two assists and Igor Shesterkin made 16 stops.
The Rangers looked ready to dominate early, scoring with 50 seconds off the clock when Gustafsson's centering pass went off a Blue Jackets player's skate through traffic and slid past Merzlikins on his glove side.
Columbus tied it at 9:26 when Jenner buried a feed in the slot from Gaudreau. The Blue Jackets took the lead with 2:15 left in the opening period when Jenner tipped Gaudreau’s shot for Columbus’ first power-play goal of the season.
There were also three near goals in the first period. The Rangers had two waved off for offsides at 9:14 and 14:36, and Patrik Laine’s shot at 7:24 trickled halfway over the goal line before being pulled out by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.
“It was a weird first period,” Fox said. “I think it became just a little too run and gun. We were getting a lot of good looks, but equally giving up a lot of good looks. We just lost the tightness we had and dug ourselves too deep of a hole.”
Jenner brought the hats flying from the stands when he tipped Jake Bean’s shot with 7:30 left in the second period to make the score 3-1.
“Obviously, it doesn’t happen often so try to soak it when it happens,” Jenner said. “It’s pretty cool and the fans were cheering so it’s pretty special. I don’t know how to explain it but it’s a good feeling.”
Jiricek increased Columbus’ lead to 4-1 over a minute later with a snipe from the right circle for his first NHL goal since being selected sixth overall by Columbus in the 2022 draft.
“In the first I was a little nervous,” Jiricek said. “It was my first start (with the Blue Jackets) this year so it was tough. I handled it well and want to just keep it going right now.”
The Rangers cut the lead in half with Cuylle’s score at 10:53 of the third, his first NHL goal, but Danforth restored the three-goal advantage with 4:06 remaining.
Krieder’s power-play goal with 36 seconds left capped the scoring.
Jenner’s hat trick was the second of his career, having scored his first March 12, 2019, against Boston.
Jiricek joined the Blue Jackets lineup today after Zach Werenski was put on injured reserve for the quadriceps contusion he suffered Thursday against the Flyers. ... Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren was kept out of the game with an upper-body injury suffered in Thursday's win against Buffalo. Zac Jones made his season debut in his place.
BACK IN BLUE
Ivan Proporov’s assist on Jenner’s second first-period goal was his first since joining Columbus this summer from the Philadelphia Flyers.
ELVIS HAS LEFT THE GAME
“He was just not feeling right. He was right this morning before the game. I didn’t get a report from the medical staff before the game. Maybe he started to feel it, and after the second period, he just couldn’t play anymore.” Vincent on Merzlikins leaving the game after two periods.
Rangers back-up goalie Jonathan Quick earned a “welcome back” video from the Blue Jackets, despite being a member of the team for just a few hours during the 2023 trade deadline. Quick offered a smile on the Rangers’ bench.
Rangers: Host Arizona on Monday night in their home opener.
Blue Jackets: Host Detroit on Monday night.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL