Derek Stepan scored a shorthanded goal with 2:48 to play and Antti Raanta made 26 saves as the Rangers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1, Monday night at The Garden. The Blueshirts have won three in a row, 5 of 6, and are 10-2-1 in their last 13 games.
Raanta, who made two clutch saves in the game’s final seconds, is now 6-4-2 on the season.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead late in the 1st period. Dan Boyle scooped up a loose puck and passed it to Mats Zuccarello, who skated behind the Columbus net and slipped the puck past Joonas Korpisalo at 17:41 for his 21st goal of the season.
Neither team scored in the 2nd period. Early in the 3rd period, the Blue Jackets capitalized on a Rangers turnover to tie the game. Dan Girardi‘s pass was intercepted by Cam Atkinson, who skated in alone on Raanta. Raanta stopped Atkinson’s first shot, but Atkinson scored on the rebound to tie the game 1-1 at 3:46.
With 4:41 to play, and the game still tied, 1-1, Marc Staal was called for tripping, and the Blueshirts went on the penalty kill for the first time all night. Ryan McDonagh poked the puck loose near center ice, Stepan grabbed the puck and skated in on Korpisalo. Stepan made a fake, waited, and then shot the puck over the outstretched body of Korpisalo for the game-winning goal. It was Stepan’s 14th goal of the season.
It was only the team’s 2nd shorthanded goal of the season. Stepan scored the other one January 5th against Dallas.
Eric Staal, acquired Sunday from Carolina, made his Rangers debut. He played nearly 16 minutes, and won 9 of the 17 face-offs he took [53%].
The Rangers [now 37-20-6, 80 pts] play the Penguins in Pittsburgh Thursday night.