The visiting Columbus Blue Jackets were the latest team to use the New York Rangers’ home ice to their advantage.
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Matt Calvert, Artem Anisimov and David Savard scored in the first 11:10, and the Blue Jackets beat the Rangers 4-2 on Thursday night, sending New York to its fourth straight loss — all at Madison Square Garden.
"I have to say it was a blessing to go from one great organization to another," former Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "I’m glad to come in here and come out with a win.
"I fired myself up so much."
The Rangers, 0-3-1 in the first four games of a nine-game homestand, closed within 3-2 in the third period, but Ryan Johansen pushed Columbus’ lead back to two goals with 1:32 left.
"Being home for nine in a row or whatever it is, it’s a chance for us to really propel ourselves up the standings," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "It’s pretty unfortunate we’ve lost the first four. Hopefully we can figure out how to salvage the rest of the homestand and bring us back to .500."
The Blue Jackets’ goalie tandem of Curtis McElhinney and Mike McKenna, who are subbing for injured reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped 32 of 34 shots.
Columbus (14-15-3) has won two in a row.
Dominic Moore and Girardi scored for New York. Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after he stopped only 10 of 13 shots in the first period.
"It was definitely not a good feeling," said Lundqvist, who made his fifth straight start since signing a long contract extension last week. "The biggest thing for me now is believing in what I do and staying confident.
"Confidence is such an important thing in this game, and right now it’s not very high."
Cam Talbot relieved Lundqvist and made 13 saves the rest of the way, allowing only Johansen’s goal between his pads.
Columbus grabbed the lead just 38 seconds in on Calvert’s goal. He took a pass from Cam Atkinson at the blue line and burned defenseman Anton Stralman before ripping a shot that beat Lundqvist high.
Anisimov increased the lead to 2-0 with his fourth of the season at 8:46. The former Rangers forward roofed Blake Comeau’s feed over Lundqvist. Savard’s goal nearly eight minutes later pushed Columbus’ lead to three and ended Lundqvist’s night.
"It was a great start," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "Guys were ready for the game, and guys were geared up. There were a lot of subplots going on with this game, and I think the guys knew that. They were focused and energized. It was a great start."
Moore got the Rangers within 3-1 at 14:08 with his first of the season. Moore backhanded Brad Richards’ feed past McElhinney.
Girardi’s second of season at 11:07 of the third was as close as the Rangers (15-17-1) would get.
"We need to build off what we did in the second half of the game," forward Brad Richards said.
The Rangers generated 18 shots in the last two periods.
"We had a push, and right before they score the fourth goal the puck is just lying on the goal line in traffic," Richards said. "When things are going differently, maybe that finds its way in. You get in a jam, it’s tough.
"It seems like everything is going the wrong way, but you have to trust and believe that we’ll have our time with it going that way, too."
McElhinney was replaced by McKenna before the start of the second period. The Blue Jackets said McElhinney sustained a lower-body injury in the first period when he made 15 saves.
McKenna stopped 17 shots in the final two frames.
"You play this game so long," McKenna said. "I’ve been in every situation. I’m 30 years old. I’ve seen it all. You just go in and play your game."
NOTES: Rangers D Dylan McIlrath, recalled from Hartford (AHL) on Wednesday, made his NHL debut. McIlrath, the No. 10 pick in the 2010 draft, had seven points and 115 penalty minutes in 24 games with Hartford. … The game marked the first game back in New York for ex-Rangers Anisimov and Dubinsky. The two, along with defenseman Tim Erixon and a draft pick, were traded to Columbus for Rick Nash, defenseman Steven Delisle and a pick. … Nash, Richards and Girardi were alternate captains for the Rangers, who were without captain Ryan Callahan. He is expected to be out 4 to 6 weeks because of a knee injury sustained this week. New York D Marc Staal (concussion) missed his second game in a row. … Columbus killed all three Rangers power plays. … The new Metropolitan Division rivals will meet twice more this season.