If there was a night to get some confidence back, it was tonight. Over the last two games, the New York Rangers were putting forth the effort, but they weren't getting the results that they would have liked. A large part of that was due to their lack of goal scoring, which wasn't much of an issue tonight in Dallas. The Rangers were able to get two quick goals in the third period tonight, which was enough to hang on and grab two points from a very skilled Dallas team. Henrik Lundqvist more or less stole this one tonight, as he made a career-high 23 saves in the first period to keep the Rangers in the game.
The Rangers were able to leap out to a quick start tonight as they scored the games first goal just six minutes into the first period. Rick Nash wound up turning Kari Lehtonen inside out after beautiful passing coming from Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Callahan. A large part of the credit goes to Lundqvist, who took advantage of Dallas making a slow change, and fired the puck up to the wide open Callahan. Nash eventually exploded through the middle, and Callahan hit him with a tape to tape pass, and Nash handled the rest.
Following Nash's go-ahead goal, the Dallas Stars really started to test the Rangers and Lundqvist as well. They went on to control the play for a majority of the first period, but there was a man named Henrik Lundqvist in the way. He made a ton of jaw dropping saves that kept the Stars off of the scoreboard, and gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead heading into the locker room.
Throughout the second period, the Rangers finally started to settle down defensively, and were able to contain the speedy Dallas wingers. However, the Rangers wound up getting into some penalty trouble, and gave the Stars numerous opportunities to get back into the game. It took a really weak hooking call on Derick Brassard to accomplish that, and the Rangers suddenly fell back on their heels once again.
One thing I have noticed this season is that the Rangers are very aggressive on their penalty, which could be crucial at points, and could also come back to haunt you at other times. It wound up hurting the Rangers tonight as Derek Stepan was caught in the middle of the ice as Stephane Robidas wired one on net. Unfortunately for Lundqvist, the puck wound up bouncing off of both Ryan McDonagh's and Dan Girardi's skate before it ended up in the back of the net.
It was a tough goal to give up, especially given the circumstances, but it wouldn't be something that the Rangers couldn't overcome. Just a minute and change into the third period, the Rangers were able to score twice in 30 seconds to jump out to a 3-1 lead. Chris Kreider was credited with the first goal as he ripped a quick snap shot, that wound up deflecting off of a stick and over the shoulder of Lehtnonen.
Kreider has been exceptional over the last handful of games, and was well overdue for a goal. It took a little puck luck tonight, but Kreider will definitely be walking a little taller after that goal tonight. Not only was it a huge goal, it was instilled some confidence back in him after he went through a goal-less drought.
Just 20 seconds later, Derick Brassard found a cutting John Moore, and he ripped another high shot over the glove of Kari Lehtnonen. With the amount of pressure the Rangers were putting on at the end of the second period, you could keep that they would come out with a big third period, and boy did they ever.
That two goal lead was very short lived though, as the Rangers wound up handing the goal right back to Dallas off of an odd-man rush. Michael Del Zotto came back into the lineup tonight looking to prove himself, but he didn't really help his case very much on Dallas' second goal. With a two goal lead, Del Zotto elected to pinch in, which wound up giving Cody Eakin a 2-on-1 with Alex Chiasson, which wound up in the back of their net.
I understand that the coaching staff likely wants Del Zotto to make that play nine times out of ten, but at some point your hockey senses need to kick in. Del Zotto is better of backing up, and containing Eakin in order to prevent the odd-man rush.
As he did all night, Henrik Lundqvist was able to fend off the late surge from Dallas, and lead them to victory. The Rangers will have an off day tomorrow as they prepare to take on the Nashville Preadtors on Saturday night.