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Panarin scores twice as Rangers beat Blue Jackets for 11th win in 12 games

NEW YORK — Artemi Panarin had two goals and an assist, Igor Shesterkin stopped 30 shots and the New York Rangers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist and Adam Fox also scored as the Rangers won their sixth-straight at home game and 11th in the last 12 games. New York, first in the Eastern Conference, improved to 12-2-1 in the last 15 games — three nights after having a 10-game winning streak snapped at Columbus on Sunday.

Kreider and Panarin scored empty-netters 41 seconds apart in the final minute. Kreider got his 30th - the third-straight season the veteran forward has achieved that milestone - and Panarin increased his career-best total to 35.

New York has 83 points, tied with Vancouver atop the NHL standings through the Canucks have played one more game.

"It's a great job by the guys," Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We still have work to do. You get to the last quarter before the playoffs and you have to play some hockey that's good hockey. I think our guys have done that."

Panarin's first goal of the night was the 250th of his career, which included two seasons with the Blue Jackets before he signed a seven-year free-agent contract with the Rangers in July 2019.

Cole Sillinger scored for the Blue Jackets and Elvis Merzlikins finished with 26 saves. Columbus, last in the East, has lost five of its last eight. The Blue Jackets had a number of opportunities to tie the contest in the waning minutes but couldn't beat Shesterkin.

"We played a good game. The scoring chances were pretty much even,'' Columbus coach Pascal Vincent said. "The guys battled to the end."

After a scoreless first period in which the Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 17-9, Panarin opened the scoring at 7:17 of the second as he fired the puck past Merzlikins after Vincent Trocheck won a faceoff in the left circle.

Fox made it 2-0 on the power play with 5:41 left in the second, firing the puck past Merzlikins for his 10th. Fox has two goals and eight points in his last seven games and is the first Rangers defenseman since Brian Leetch (four times from 2000-04) with three-straight 10-goal seasons.

Sillinger spoiled Shesterkin's shutout bid with his ninth goal at 3:24 of the third period.

"We had a lot of opportunities to tie the game,'' Sillinger said. "That's a good team over there."

Kreider scored into empty net to make it 3-1 with 53 seconds remaining before Panarin completed the scoring with 12 seconds to go. Panarin leads the Rangers with 82 points and has points in 48 of New York's 60 games this season.

The Rangers finished February with a 10-1-0 record, outscoring opponents 40-22.

Shesterkin won his seventh straight game to improve to 26-12-1 this season.

"Good saves from him as usual,'' Panarin said through a translator. "He's doing good and we're all proud of him."

The 28-year-old Russian goaltender has allowed two or fewer goals in 20 of his 26 wins. He hasn't lost since New York's previous defeat at home, 5-2 on Jan. 26 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

"We played strong defensively," Shesterkin said. "We played our game."

The Rangers are 21-7-0 at Madison Square Garden this season and their 40 victories through 60 games equals the 1972-73 squad for fewest games to reach the 40-win mark in franchise history.

Columbus finished the season series 2-1-1 against the Rangers as their captain Boone Jenner captain played his 700th career game.

Rangers rookie forward Matt Rempe had a relatively uneventful sixth NHL game after having three fights in his first five contests as well as scoring the winning goal at Philadelphia last Saturday. The 6-foot-7 forward did not engage in a rematch bout with Columbus forward Mathieu Olivier. The two exchanged blows during last Sunday's contest from which the 21-year-old Rempe sustained a black left eye.

Rangers forward Will Cuylle and Dmitri Voronkov of Columbus dropped the gloves for a brief skirmish with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.

UP NEXT

Blue Jackets: Host Carolina on Thursday night.

Rangers: At Toronto on Saturday night.

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