Late goal lifts Blue Jackets past Rangers

NEW YORK — Oliver Bjorkstrand scored his second goal of the game with 26.5 seconds left to lift Columbus Blue Jackets over the New York Rangers 2-1 Sunday night for their fifth straight win.

Bjorkstrand was playing for the first time after 13 games with an oblique injury. He tied it 6:08 into the third period, then put the winner past goalie Igor Shesterkin for his 14th goal of the season.

Columbus rookie Matiss Kivlenieks made his first NHL start and stopped 31 shots. The surging Blue Jackets are 15-2-4 since Dec. 9. They are also 8-1-3 in their last 12 road games.

Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei opened the scoring at 18:28 of the first period, eight seconds after his high-sticking penalty expired. A long pass from fellow defenseman Jacob Trouba went past Skjei’s outstretched stick, but he managed to scoop up the ricochet off the boards and beat Kivlenieks for his seventh goal. Trouba had the only assist.

The 23-year-old Kivlenieks, from Riga, Latvia, was making his debut after fellow Latvian goalie Elvis Merzlikins blanked the New Jersey Devils 5-0 in Columbus on Saturday.

Kivlenieks, who was 7-7-2 with AHL Cleveland this season, played a strong second period. He denied Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith on point-blank chances in front. He made 14 saves in the third period.