NEW YORK -- With Eric Staal making his debut, and brother Marc Staal sitting in the penalty box late in the third period of a tie game, it was Derek Stepan who rescued the New York Rangers on Monday.
Stepan scored a shorthanded goal with 2:48 remaining to give the Rangers a 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden. Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh poked the puck away from Columbus defenseman Seth Jones at the New York blue line and Stepan broke in down the left wing against goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
Stepan, a right-handed shot, cut in from the wing, faked Korpisalo to the ice, then went around him and tucked in a forehand for his 14th goal to give the Rangers (37-20-6) their fifth win in six games.
"Originally I was going to shoot it," Stepan said. "I took a look up and took my chances trying to beat him to the back pipe."
Video: CBJ@NYR: Zuccarello opens the scoring
New York made one of the bigger pre-deadline trades acquiring Staal from the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday for a second-round pick in the 2016 and 2017 NHL Drafts, and forward prospect Aleksi Saarela. The former Hurricanes captain played center between Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes in the first two periods before shifting to left wing with center Derick Brassard and Zuccarello in the third period. Staal finished with one shot on goal in 15:43 of ice time.
"Well, it's a lot of emotion, obviously, from the moment the trade happened, but it's been positive since that moment," Staal said. "It's been a lot of fun coming here and joining this group. It's a great group of guys that made me feel real welcome right off the bat. It feels nice to get the win. That's what we're focused on here as a group."
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead on Mats Zuccarello's goal 17:41 into the first period.
The Blue Jackets tied it in the third period when Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi made a pass inside the Blue Jackets blue line that was picked off by Cam Atkinson, who scored on his breakaway rebound on goalie Antti Raanta for his 20th goal at 3:46.
Video: CBJ@NYR: Raanta saves the game with his left pad
"We got good looks," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Obviously, we made that mistake there on that goal; that's going to happen sometimes. But Antti played a real strong game for us. It was obviously an emotional day for a lot of our players today, but at the end of the day, we got two points, and that's what counts."
The Blue Jackets, with their net empty, thought they tied the game when Atkinson put one past Raanta again in the dying seconds. But time had expired by the time the puck crossed the line.
"I thought it was in," Atkinson said. "I didn't hear the horn. It was blowing, I guess, but I didn't hear it."
The Blue Jackets (26-30-8) were expected to be sellers at the NHL Trade Deadline, and a few veterans, including defenseman Fedor Tyutin and forward Scott Hartnell, attended the morning skate not knowing whether they'd be playing in the game. Each said afterward they were pleased to remain with Columbus.
Video: CBJ@NYR: Atkinson ties the game at 1 in the 3rd
"I didn't really do my usual (afternoon) nap," Hartnell said. "I got a couple phone calls here and there, but obviously I came here for a reason; I believe in this team and I'm excited to be here."
Tyutin said, "We all feel like family here. Everybody stayed together … and you know, right after 3 o'clock it was back to business and get on with the game."
The Rangers played without forward Jesper Fast (illness). Defenseman Dylan McIlrath skated at forward on the fourth line.
Wings Jared Boll and David Clarkson returned to the lineup for Columbus. Boll played for the first time in 17 games, and Clarkson missed 23 games with a back injury.
Video: Stepan's late goal lifts Rangers to the 2-1 win