NEW YORK — Alexis Lafreniere’s second goal of the game tied it with 11 seconds left in regulation, and then he had the only score in the shootout as the New York Rangers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Sunday night.
Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers, who are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games. Artemi Panarin had two assists to extend his season-opening point streak to 14 games, tying Hall-of-Famer Rod Gilbert for the franchise record set in 1972-73. Jonathan Quick made 26 saves.
“I’m playing with really good linemates and trying to get open,” said Lafreniere, who had his first career three-point game in last Thursday’s 4-1 win over Minnesota. “We’ve got a lot of games to play, so I’m just trying to stay consistent and keep playing well.”
Justin Danforth, Adam Fantilli and Sean Kuraly scored for Columbus, with lost its fifth straight (0-3-2). Erik Gudbranson had two assists and Elvis Merzlikins finished with 37 saves.
“We played a good game. In the third period, we had our chances … but we were 11 seconds short,” Blue Jackets coach Pascal Vincent said. ”Elvis played well.”
The Rangers had 19 shots in the third period, finally breaking through in the waning seconds.
“That was a wild one for sure,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “They fought and competed real hard.”
In the tiebreaker, Lafreniere backhanded the puck past Merzlikins in the third round, and Quick denied Alexandre Texier to secure the win.
“They are going in expecting to win,″ Laviolette said. ”Jonathan was really good tonight. … The team is finding ways to get it done.”
Quick returned after he wasn’t available for New York’s win over Minnesota due to an upper-body injury.
Despite participating in New York’s morning skate on Sunday, starter Igor Shesterkin didn’t dress as he continues to work through minor soreness. Louis Domingue, who got his first win with the Rangers in the last game, was Quick’s backup as Shesterkin missed his fourth straight game.
“They got some pressure in the second. They took the lead but we didn’t stop we kept coming,” said Quick, who improved to 4-0-1. ”We were able to get one late to tie it, then get one in the shootout to win it. It’s great.”
With Quick pulled for an extra attacker, Lafreniere was able to slide the puck past Merzlikins to send the Madison Square Garden crowd into hysterics as he tied it 3-3 in the closing seconds.
“The crowd was really loud tonight,” Lafreniere said. “It was fun.”
Fantilli and Kuraly had scored 19 seconds apart midway through the second period to give Columbus a 3-2 lead.
Lafreniere had given the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 11:17 of the second before the two quick strikes by Columbus.
Lafreniere finished off a precision passing play from Vincent Trocheck and Panarin by whipping the puck past Merzlikins.
The teams traded goals in the first as Danforth opened the scoring with 3:34 left, deflecting Gudbranson’s shot past Quick for his fourth of the season.
Kreider tied it with 1:14 remaining in the period with his 10th. Kreider leads the Rangers in goals this season and his 275 career goals place him five behind Adam Graves for third on the all-time franchise list.
Gustafsson has 10 points this season, including three goals.
Fantilli, the 19-year-old rookie forward drafted third overall by Columbus last June, tied the contest at 12:35 of the second before Kuraly put the visitors ahead at 12:54 with his fifth.
The Rangers appeared to tie it with 1:37 remaining in the second after a sharp-angle shot by Will Cullye wedged between Merzlikins and the post. But after a lengthy review by referees Kevin Pollock and Brandon Blandina, they ruled the play was frozen before Kaapo Kaako tapped the puck just into the net.
Blue Jackets: Host Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
Rangers: At New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL