NEW YORK -- Three quick goals in the first period were all goaltender Henrik Lundqvist needed to keep his team undefeated during the young season.
Center Oscar Lindberg scored his third and fourth goals of the season, left winger Dominic Moore added another before the game was six minutes old and Lundqvist stopped 37 shots as the New York Rangers trounced the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night to complete a home-and-home sweep.
The Rangers improved to 3-0-0 with their home-opening victory while the Blue Jackets are 0-2-0 after losing on back-to-back nights to their Metropolitan Division rivals.
Columbus made a strong push after falling into a three-goal hole but Lundqvist stopped 34 of 36 shots over the final 53 minutes, including a diving stick save late in the second period to deny center Ryan Johansen a goal into a gaping net that would have cut the lead to 3-1.
Thirty seconds later, center Derick Brassard pushed the lead to 4-0 with a power-play goal, and the game was all but over.
"We stuck to it and still tried to find ways and Henrik, he was great all day," said Johansen, who scored in the third period to spoil Lundqvist's shutout bid. "He definitely kept me from scoring some goals. He was very good for them tonight."
Lundqvist has a .943 save percentage and has allowed just six goals while facing an average of more than 35 shots per contest.
"It's great to see (Lundqvist) give us a chance to win these first few games," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "Now we know we can improve for sure defensively, giving up chances, hopefully give up less against. But at the end of the day, we found a way to win three pretty good, important games to start the year."
Lindberg, a 23-year-old rookie, is also enjoying a great start to the 2015-16 season. He is tied for the league lead in goals with four while linemates right winger J.T. Miller has four assists and left winger Kevin Hayes has a goal and two assists.
"I think we've been doing that all three games, playing hard and trying to get the puck deep," Lindberg said of his line. "I think from there, we've been creating chances and I've been able to be in the right spot at the right time. So we are just trying to keep it going."
Lindberg gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at the 1:20 mark, when he drove the net and swept home the rebound of Hayes' attempt, and scored again less than four minutes later when a pass from Miller banked off his skate and past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed four goals on 22 shots before being relieved by Curtis McElhinney.
Moore gave the Rangers a 3-0 advantage by batting a pass from center Jarret Stoll out of mid-air at the 5:48 mark of the first period.
Left winger Rick Nash had a chance to make it 4-0 on a penalty shot but Bobrovsky made a right pad save.
Brassard eventually extended the lead to 4-0 by deflecting a pass by defenseman Dan Boyle and center Derek Stepan made it 5-0 at the 1:26 mark of the third period. Goals by Johansen and left winger Boone Jenner were cosmetic and too little, too late against an extremely sharp Lundqvist.
"They're a great team. We've said that from the start of the season," Blue Jackets right winger Nick Foligno said. "They do a lot of things right. They're consistently at the top of the league for a reason. ... We just weren't able to overcome the adversity of a couple bad bounces."
"I felt like I was tracking the puck pretty good and it was a challenging game," Lundqvist said. "Playing three (games) in four (nights) - going into this game, the biggest challenge was to find that energy. But it's fun to come back home and play here at the Garden again and it was not hard to find that energy tonight."
NOTES: Blue Jackets C William Karlsson made his season debut. He took the place of C Alexander Wennberg, who suffered a concussion Friday night against the Rangers in Columbus. ... Blue Jackets RW David Clarkson (lower body) missed his third game of this season with an injury and D Cody Goloubef was also a scratch. ... The Rangers made one lineup change, inserting LW Tanner Glass in place of RW Jesper Fast. ... D Dylan McIlrath and RW Emerson Etem were scratches for the Rangers. ... The Rangers have won each of their first three games of the regular season for the first time since 2008-09.