Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan each scored their 20th goals and had an assist, and the New York Rangers hung on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 Monday night to earn a sixth-consecutive playoff berth.
Dan Boyle and Mats Zuccarello also scored for the Rangers, who snapped a three-game skid and moved three points behind second-place Pittsburgh and remained two ahead of the fourth-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.
The Rangers clinched playing down a defenseman most of the way. Captain Ryan McDonagh was injured blocking a shot early in the first period and left the game.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 stops for his 34th win.
Nick Foligno scored twice for Columbus, which pulled within one with 9:15 remaining before conceding an empty-net goal late. >> Read more
- The Rangers finally clinch a playoff and not only that, they played a pretty nice game overall.
- Getting the checkmark by your name only guarantees that the Rangers will play at least four more games this season. That's it. They aren't guaranteed anything other than two home and two road games and will need to work extremely hard and raise their level of play if they not only want to get past those four games but get back to where they were last year and beyond.
- Even if Alain Vigneault doesn't want to do it, it's time to start resting guys or at least rotating a few in and out over the next three games so that Oscar Lindberg and Dylan McIlrath can get adequate ice time in case they are needed in the playoffs. It probably makes a big difference between being on the ice for a game in the last week vs not being in a game for a month or so.
- It's another strong game for Chris Kreider. He is saving his best hockey for now and the hope has to be that it will be continue into next week and beyond.
- The expectations for this team are far beyond just making the playoffs, but nothing is guaranteed in the NHL and the Rangers had to work through a lot to get to this point. The final grade on this season will come after the playoffs but without a strong regular season, good goaltending and timely goals, you don't get the opportunity to play in the spring.