Rangers rally, beat Blue Jackets 4-3 in OT
NEW YORK (AP) — Derek Stepan came through late, not once but twice, in the New York Rangers’ rally past Columbus.
Stepan scored with 28 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, then got the winner late in the extra period in the Rangers’ 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night.
With their fourth straight win, the Rangers improved to 51-21-7 for a league-best 109 points. With three games remaining, the Rangers are two points ahead of Anaheim for the Presidents’ Trophy. New York has four more (46-42) regulation and overtime wins, a tiebreaker.
The Rangers have won the Presidents’ Trophy once in their 88-year history, in the 1993-94 season — the last time the franchise won the Stanley Cup.
Columbus, the NHL’s hottest team, had won nine in a row, but won’t make the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves and has won all four of those games in the streak. Martin St. Louis and Dan Girardi also scored for New York.
Matt Calvert, Marko Dano and Brandon Dubinsky scored for Columbus, which outplayed New York for much of the second half of the game. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots.
With Lundqvist pulled for an extra skater, Stepan whipped Chris Kreider’s feed past Bobrovsky as Madison Square Garden crowd erupted. Stepan ended a wild overtime with a forehand shot with 49.6 seconds to go as the fans again celebrated.
That was in stark contrast to the quiet inside the building after former Ranger Dubinsky snapped Nick Foligno’s feed past Lundqvist midway in the third period for the Blue Jackets’ only lead.
St. Louis opened the scoring in the first period with his 21st goal. Kevin Hayes carried the puck into the offensive zone and whiffed on a shot attempt. But as he fell to the ice, he fed a cutting St. Louis for a snap shot from the slot.
Calvert drew the teams even late in the period, pressuring defenseman Ryan McDonagh into a defensive zone turnover. Jeremy Morin recovered, before feeding Calvert for a tap-in.
Girardi put New York ahead 2-1 just 36 seconds into the second period, sneaking down right wing before snapping a quick shot from the top of the right circle.
Dano tied the game when he swatted Artem Anisimov’s rebound past Lundqvist.
NOTES: Prior to the game, Cam Talbot was presented the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award named after the lifelong Rangers fan and NYPD officer who was shot and injured while on duty in 1986. … New York scratched James Sheppard. … Columbus scratched defensemen Ryan Murray and Fedor Tyutin, and forwards Jared Boll, Rene Bourque, David Clarkson and Corey Tropp. … Columbus and New York split the regular season series, winning two games apiece. … Dubinsky was traded along with Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick to Columbus for Rick Nash on July 23, 2012. In seven career games against New York, Dubinsky has two goals, two assists.