After blowing a three-goal lead, the Rangers were rescued by Rick Nash.
Nash scored in the third round of the shootout and Cam Talbot stopped Cam Atkinson as the Rangers beat the Blue Jackets, 4-3, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.
Martin St. Louis, who had scored twice earlier against goalie Curtis McElhinney (34 saves), and Mark Letestu scored in the first round. J.T. Miller then hit the post and Ryan Johansen hit the crossbar before Nash's winner.
A 3-0 lead in the second period almost wasn't enough, but the Rangers (36-16-6) closed to within two points of the Islanders for first place with three games in hand. The Penguins are three points out of first.
The Blue Jackets, in the fourth game of a four-city trip, fought back with two second-period goals and then tied the game at 3 on David Savard's point shot that appeared to be deflected past Talbot with 4:19 left in regulation.
The Rangers went on the power play just nine seconds into overtime after St. Louis was pulled down by Fedor Tyutin. McElhinney robbed Nash in front early, and the Rangers couldn't connect on their fourth man-advantage. With 1:24 left. McElhinney denied John Moore on a two-on-one for his sixth save of the extra session. Talbot (27 saves) then stopped Artem Anisimov shortly after that when Anisimov spun and fired a backhander.
After controlling the first period and leading 2-0, the Rangers struck quickly in the second. St. Louis scored his second goal, and 18th of the season, off a nifty fake and pass from Ryan McDonagh at the left circle to the right post at 1:24 of the period, making it 3-0. The Rangers had the first five shots of the period, and it appeared that the Blueshirts would cruise to a win.
But the three-goal advantage vanished. Marko Dano responded, catching the Blueshirts asleep in front, burying a pass from Nick Foligno at 2:17.
With 1:49 left in the second, Anisimov took the puck to the net, and Talbot stopped his first attempt with his left pad, but the former Rangers center jammed away and the puck bounced off Talbot's skate and across the line to cut it to 3-2.
The Rangers were outshot 8-1 in the third period while trying to protect the one-goal lead.
In his return to the net after rookie Mackenzie Skapski subbed for him in Buffalo, Talbot (6-1-2 in Henrik Lundqvist's absence) won his second career shootout and first of the season.
It was a night where special teams could have ended this earlier. There were three effective penalty kills for the Rangers, who had killed off 16 of the last 18 power plays coming into the game, including one at 5:03 of the third, when Nash grazed McElhinney in the crease, and the goaltender fell backward into the net, drawing a penalty.
With 11:15 left, Nash, on a rush, drew an interference call on Savard, but the Rangers, with no shots on goal, couldn't convert on their third man-advantage of the night.
After going 0-for-4 on the power play in Friday's 3-1 victory in Buffalo, the Rangers were 0-for-9 over their past four games, and were 0-for-2 through two periods, although they peppered McElhinney on the first, when Savard was whistled for interference on Chris Kreider.