COLUMBUS, OH.- The Rangers' bid for a perfect road trip - as well as their three-game winning streak - came to an end Friday night against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
A late rally fell short when Matt Calvert scored short-handed to put the Blue Jackets ahead 3-2 just 3:03 after the Rangers knotted the game, en route to a 4-2 victory.
"Tough one there for sure because we had some momentum there after we tied the game," stated Ryan McDonagh, who said the shot deflected off his stick. "We had a good feeling there, but just didn't make it happen. All in all, a tough game and a tough opponent. You have to give them credit. They played real hard."
Michael Grabner and Mika Zibanejad each scored in the loss.
Columbus opened the scoring 16:34 into the first period when William Karlsson intercepted a J.T. Miller pass and fired a low slap shot that beat Henrik Lundqvist between the pads.
A Jesper Fast turnover by Sam Gagner lead to Columbus' second goal of the night 5:38 into the second period. Fast attempted a pass from the corner that Gagner picked off. He fired a wrist shot that Lundqvist partially stopped with his glove, but the puck got behind him and into the net to make it 2-0.
Video: NYR@CBJ: Grabner causes turnover, beats Bobrovsky
Grabner would get the Rangers back to within a goal when he blocked a Ryan Murray pass at the Rangers blueline and broke in alone and beat Sergei Bobrovsky to make it 2-1 at 11:04. It was his 11th goal of the season - all at even strength. He became the first Ranger since Rod Gilbert in 1971-72 to score 11 even strength goals in the team's first 18 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Blueshirts would tie the game midway through the third period when Zibanejad buried a beautiful pass in the slot by Brady Skjei 8:32 into the third period.
Video: NYR@CBJ: Zibanejad buries Skjei's feed to tie game
But the rally was thwarted just over three minutes later when Calvert converted on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with a wrist shot that beat Lundqvist stick side. Columbus added an empty net goal with one second remaining.
"It just beat me fair and square," said Lundqvist, who made 20 saves. "It was a good wrist shot. It's tough to lose a game where you come back 2-0 and they score a shorthanded game-winner. That's a tough one. I felt like we did enough good things in the third to maybe win this one."
Chris Kreider returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury.
While the Rangers still finish the trip with six out of a possible eight points, Marc Staal said the team wanted to get a good feeling back with them back to New York. He did not use the end of an eight-day trip as an excuse.
"Definitely were in the game," Staal said. "I don't think we were at our best by any means for long portions of the game, but we hung in there and battled and gave ourselves a chance. Tough to end the road trip like that. You want to win and finish it off right. we came up short."
New York returns to Madison Square Garden Sunday to take on the Florida Panthers.