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Rangers close out road trip with huge win over Dallas; Lundqvist makes 36 saves

Bobby Bevilacqua

Chris Kreider goal celebration 2-27

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The road warriors are back in business.

After struggling away from home for much of the season, the Rangers (36-20-6) picked up their fifth road win in the last six games, scoring a late goal to take down the Dallas Stars (38-19-6) and continue their strong play as of late.

The Rangers have climbed up the standings with a 9-2-1 run over their last 12 games, finding ways to win and getting excellent goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist in the process. He made 36 saves, marking the third straight game that he stopped at least 35 shots. After claims that this team was done, lain Vigneault’s squad are not just four points behind the Stars for the second best record in the entire league.

The opening period was pretty slow for both teams. Not a lot of chances early on, a slower pace and both teams trying to find their legs. The Stars were up in shots 7-2 early on, but the pace of the game picked up in the last 10 minutes and both teams were creating lots of scoring opportunities.

The Stars had the first good chance of the game when Valeri Nichushkin had a breakaway opportunity. He cut down the middle of the ice and sent a shot at Henril Lundqvist, who turned it aside with his shoulder pads. Dallas would have some more extended zone shifts before the Rangers really got anything going.

Dominic Moore easily had the best chance of the period, and he should have scored, but he didn’t even get a shot off. Keith Yandle made a remarkable pass to Moore at the side of the net with Lehtonen down on the ice. Rather than take a shot, Moore tried to cut to the net and get a better angle but he wound up getting the puck taken away. It was a poor decision from Moore and might have cost the Rangers a goal.

JT Miller also had a really good chance, making a nice move and skating out from behind the net to take a shot, but it hit the far post, and the game remained scoreless. The shots finished in Dallas’ favor, 10-8, but the Rangers probably had the better chances. As the period ended, Tanner Glass and Patrick Sharp each received coincidental minors and the teams began the second period skating 4 on 4.

The second period had a lot more skating and scoring chances throughout, with the Ranger and Stars getting 11 and 13 shots on goal, respectively. Both team’s scored, but remained tied after 40 minutes.

Chris Kreider built on his strong start, opening up the period with a takeaway and a set-up to Stepan and McDonagh. The team’s pressure forced Dallas into taking a delay of game penalty, and it took the Ranger just four seconds to score. Keith Yandle faked a pass at the point and sent a strong wrist shot on net that was deflected in by Kreider, giving him goals in consecutive games and giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

But the Stars answered back quickly, scoring the equalizer less than five minutes later. Tanner Glass went off for a change and that caused some confusion with the defensive coverages. Tyler Seguin fired a shot on net that Lundqvist kicked aside with the pad, but Colton Sceviour came from around the net, beat Dan Girardi to the puck and slid it around Lundqivst’s pad, his seventh goal of the season.

Zuccarello nearly scored minutes later after Lehtonen left a big rebound on Dan Girardi’s sot, but the puck was on edge and the shot went wide of the open net. The Rangers had a few more good chances, as did the Stars, but the goalies were good. Henrik made a great save on a deflection in front of the net and the period ended with the score tied at one.

The third period began with much tighter defense from both sides. Neither team could get many shots off or get into the slot. But the Rangers broke through first in the period, with Ryan McDonagh scoring his eighth goal of the season.

Oscar Lindberg sent a shot on net that Lehtonen thought he had in his pads, but it trickled wide of the net. McDonagh got to the puck first and Lehtonen was late getting over. McDonagh’s backhand deflected in off of the Stars’ netminder and into the net, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

After that, Vigneault sent his team into full on defensive shell mode, not being overly aggressive in the offensive zone or taking many chances.

The Stars almost scored about halfway through the third period when a deflected puck got through Lundqvist’s pads and rested in the crease. Jason Spezza attacked the crease and pushed it on the line, coming very close to going over. However, there was no conclusive evidence showing the puck crossing the line, so the no goal call on the ice stood.

The defensive shell worked for a while, but the Stars eventually scored that elusive second goal with Valeri Nichushkin, rumored to be available for trade, firing a slap shot past Lundqvist. The shot deflected off of Dan Girardi’s stick and caught Lundqvist moving in the opposite direction.

But just 1:08 later, Kevin Klein, aka Mr. Clutch, aka I only score game winners, found the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season, giving New York their one goal lead back with just 2:53 to go. After a flurry of chances on both sides, including a Jamie Benn shot that hit the crossbar, the Rangers got an extended offensive zone shift. With the Stars players getting tired, Jesper Fast made a nice pass over to Stepan, and he set up Kevin Klein with a little drop pass. Klein positioned himself and fired a wrist shot past Lehtonen for a huge goal, ultimately his third game winning goal of the season.

The Stars pulled their goalie and had some chances late, but timely goaltending from Lundqvist, as well as a fantastic block on Nichushkin from Zuccarello, and the Rangers picked up a huge road win against the best team in the Western Conference.

Apart from the defensive shell, the Rangers played a pretty solid game. I thought Chris Kreider was excellent, scoring for the second straight game and creating chances all over the ice. Henrik Lundqvist was fantastic as usual, and the team is beginning to find their form back on the road. They return to Madison Square Garden on Monday for one home game, taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets just hours after the trade deadline ends.

THREE STARS

1) Henrik Lundqvist – 36 SV, .947 SV%

2) Kevin Klein – 1 G, 3 BS, 20:07 TOT

3) Chris Kreider – 1 G, 3 SOG, 2 HT, 18:38 TOT

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Posted on February 28, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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