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Megna, Second line help guide Rangers to dominating win over Dallas Stars

Bobby Bevilacqua

jayson megna goal celebration 1-5

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

In arguably the team’s most complete win in months, the Rangers (22-14-4) wound up dominating the Dallas Stars (28-10-4) at Madison Square Garden, coming away with an impressive 6-2 win and handing Dallas their third straight loss.

For a team that had 39 shots on goal and was shutout against the Florida Panthers, this was exactly the type of win that they needed. The Rangers will take on the Washington Capitals on Saturday, and taking down the Dallas Stars in such convincing fashion like this is a great confidence booster.

The Rangers had as good of a start to a game as you could ask for. They really limited what Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were doing, allowed very few chances against, and wound up leading after the first 20 minutes.

Seven games since returning from broken ribs, Derek Stepan finally found the back of the net again, giving the Rangers the lead just 1:56 into the first period. Jayson Megna and Rick Nash worked hard on the forecheck to wrestle the puck behind the net. Megna found Nash, who fired a shot on goal. Stepan followed up and beat Niemi for his seventh goal of the season.

The Rangers would follow that up with two power play opportunities, continuing to apply a lot of pressure to Dallas but unable to break through their line of defense. The Stars did not get their first shot on goal until 11:41.

But the Stars and their potent offense struck at 13:50 of the first period. Jason Spezza blocked a shot and transitioned to attack, making an excellent pass over to John Klingberg. He sent a wrist shot at Lundqvist, and it snuck underneath his arm and into the back of the net, tying the game. It was a bad goal from Lundqvist and seemingly a momentum killer for the Rangers.

Thankfully, Lundqvist’s teammates were there to bail him out, and it was Keith Yandle scoring his first goal in 32 games. Yandle did an excellent job of keeping the puck in the zone after Dallas tried to clear it, and he turned and fired a shot on net. The puck deflected off of Jyrki Jokipakka and past Niemi, giving the Rangers their one goal lead back just 18 seconds after Klingberg scored.

This was an excellent example of the types of shots that the Rangers need to take more. Against Florida, there was no traffic at all. On Yandle’s goal, Kevin Hayes tied up his man in front and I don’t think Niemi ever saw it. That was crucial.

Henrik Lundqvist made up for his earlier mistake by making a huge save on Patrick Sharp. Tyler Sequin sent Sharp on an odd man rush and Lundqvist came up big here.

The Rangers had two more excellent chances, with JT Miller rushing down the ice and hitting the post from a bad angle. Then Niemi made an excellent left pad save on Zuccarello’s one timer.

The period ended and the Rangers had a 2-1 lead and were up in shots 14-6 against the best team in the Western Conference.

In the second period, the Rangers didn’t do much offensively, but didn’t allow Dallas to do much with the puck either. Dallas had a power play early in the period, but didn’t get any shots on goal. The Rangers got the best chance, and Niemi made a fantastic pad save on Stepan’s shorthanded breakaway.

The Rangers were almost gifted a goal when Klingberg’s stick broke behind the net. Nash got the puck at point blank, passed it off to Megna and his one-timer was stopped by Niemi.

The Rangers would break through again and extend their lead to two goals, and it was Derick Brassard scoring his 14th goal of the season. JT Miller carried the puck through the neutral zone, dumped it off to Brassard, he deked around his defender and went to make a pass to another Ranger. But it deflected off of Dallas defenseman Johnny Oduya and into the back of the net.

The Rangers mustered just six shots on goal, but also only allowed eight shots against, and led 3-1 after 40 minutes. The Rangers were tied for third in the NHL in third period goals. The Stars led the league in third period goals with 61. So it was destined to be an action packed final twenty minutes. And it was the Rangers coming out on top, scoring three goals and coming away with a win.

The Stars got a power play opportunity about four minutes into the final period, their second of the game. But it wasn’t Dallas that got a goal, it was the Rangers scoring their first shorthanded goal of the season.

Rick Nash was pressuring the puck carrier, and eventually intercepted one of the passes. He sent Derek Stepan on a breakaway, and he deked out Niemi to score his second goal of the night, a huge momentum swing for the Rangers.

 

Shortly after that, New York struck again, and it was Viktor Stalberg scoring his fifth goal of the season. Kevin Hayes set up the whole play, carrying the puck deep into Dallas’ zone, waiting for a defenseman to get into position before passing it to him. Kevin Klein shot the puck, Niemi made a few saves, but Stalberg was able to stuff it past him and extend the lead to four.

Dallas would answer back quickly, scoring their second goal of the game 50 seconds after Stalberg’s goal. Antoine Rousell tapped in an incredible cross-crease feed from Jason Spezza for his seventh goal of the season.

Around the 13 minute mark, it looked like Val Nichushkin had scored the third Dallas goal, but Alain Vigneault quickly called for a challenge. Assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson was screaming for a review seconds after the puck went into the net, and he was right. Jason Spezza was offsides and the goal was called off. Excellent work and communication from the coaching staff on this play.

Just 32 seconds after reversing the goal, momentum had officially swung back in the Rangers favor. It’s not often that you get called up to the NHL and have a two point night, but that’s exactly what happened for Jayson Megna.

Kevin Klein made an excellent interception and quicky sprung Megna for an odd man rush with Rick Nash. He passed it to Nash, the defenseman went down to the ice, and Nash passed it back for Megna to send off of the post and into the empty net, his first goal as a Ranger and his first since 2014.

In the end, the Rangers skated away with a win over the best team in the Western Conference. And it wasn’t just any win. It was a dominating win. Every facet of their game was good tonight. The offense. The defense. The goaltending. The penalty kill. The forecheck. It was all on point, and this was the team’s best, most complete game in a while.

Jayson Megna substituted for Chris Kreider in the lineup, taking his place on the second line. The Wolf Pack’s leader in shots on goal (110) filled in very nicely, registering a goal and an assist. Rick Nash had three assists, and Stepan played his best game in months, scoring twice. This line was really good together, and Vigneault may want to keep them together another game.

Kevin Hayes was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games, and he did pretty well. It was nothing flashy, but he played a very safe and responsible game. He didn’t have any assists, but his screen was crucial to Yandle’s goal, and holding onto the puck on offense was crucial to setting up Stalberg’s goal. Solid performance from the second year player.

Keith Yandle scored his second goal of the season, giving him 21 points for the season. His goal was crucial, answering back just 18 seconds after Klingberg scored. That was very important to making sure that the Stars didn’t take control of the game.

JT Miller picked up an assist, his 12th of the season and his 20th point. He’s been great in his increased offensive role, getting 19+ minutes of ice time tonight on the top line. Miller is enjoying the best stretch of his career, and he’s becoming a better overall player as the season goes on.

The Rangers have three days off before taking on the Capitals on Saturday.

THREE STARS

1) Derek Stepan – 2 G, 5 SOG, +2, 2 BS, 16:31 TOT

2) Rick Nash – 3 A, 16:18 TOT

3) Jayson Megna – 1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, 11:51 TOT

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Posted on January 6, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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