On the winning play, Marion Gaborik faked a shot from the point but instead passed it to Michael Del Zotto at the left side of the Columbus net.
The New York defenseman lifted a cross-crease pass over the stick of a defender and found Stepan alone on the opposite side, who one-timed a shot into an empty net for the game-winner.
The Rangers increased their lead atop the East to nine points over Boston and New Jersey while bouncing back from a Thursday loss to Chicago.
Brad Richards and Artem Anisimov also scored and Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 21-of-23 shots in notching his 28th win of the season.
The victory was the 132nd for Rangers Coach John Tortorella, moving him past Herb Brooks for sixth place on New York's all-time list.
The Blue Jackets' Rick Nash forced an overtime on a goal with 1:33 remaining in regulation.
Swim Week Miami Beach 2014 [PHOTOS]