COLUMBUS — Matt Calvert was beaming in the Columbus Blue Jackes’ locker room after scoring the winning goal with a bandaged forehead hiding about 30 stitches.
Calvert returned from absorbing a slap shot that requird medical attention and scored a short-handed, tiebreaking goal in the third period to lift the Blue Jackets to a franchise-record seventh straight home win, 4-2 over the New York Rangers on Friday night.
“You can’t script it any better that he comes back and scores the winner for us,” said Sam Gagner, who also scored. “That’s just an unbelievable teammate and it gives every guy on the bench a huge shot when he comes back.”
William Karlsson had a goal and an assist and Boone Jenner also scored for Columbus, which led 2-0 in the second period before allowing the Rangers to tie it in the third. The Blue Jackets have won three in a row overall and seven of nine. Sergei Bobrovksy had 25 saves.
Michael Grabner and Mika Zibanejad scored for New York, which lost for the third time in 14 games. Henrik Lundqvist made 20 saves for the Rangers.
“They made it tough for us to really get going,” Lundqvist said. “But in the end it came down to one play. I think we feel a little disappointed even though being down 2-0 the way we lost this one.”
About three minutes after Zibanejad evened the score at 8:32 of the third, the Rangers were looking to take the lead on the power play, but Calvert snuck a shot under Lundqvist’s right arm on a 2-on-1 with Karlsson.
“I think when something like this happens emotions just kind of take over,” Calvert said. “You’re riding on adrenaline. I made a shot and it was great to see it hit the back of the net.”
The Rangers pressured at the end but Bobrovksy stopped Chris Kreider’s close range redirection with 11.6 seconds left.
Jenner scored into an empty net with Lundqvist pulled for the extra attacker.
The matchup featuring the league’s two most productive offenses was a slog in the first period. Karlsson capitalized on J.T. Miller’s ill-advised pass attempt across the top of the circles. He let loose a low shot with no traffic through Lundqvist’s legs for the first score with 3:26 left.
The pace and chances picked up after that. Gagner made it 2-0 with his seventh at 5:38 on another bad clearing pass by the Rangers. Gagner knocked the puck down with his stick then wristed a shot that banked off Lundqvist before landing across the goal line.
Grabner cut the deficit in half six minutes later when Columbus’ Ryan Murray ripped the puck into the shin pads of the speedy forward, the carrom sending Grabner on a breakaway and he lifted a shot past Bobrovksy for his 11th.
On the tying score, Zibanejad found an open spot on the back side and sent a one-timer into an open net on a nice set up from Brady Skjei.
“Give them credit, they played a strong game but in my mind there were some areas - puck decisions - that we could have been a lot better at,” New York coach Alain Vigneault said.