The New York Rangers were defeated 3-2 in overtime tonight by the Dallas Stars, but they probably deserved better after putting together a strong third period. Even though he gave up three goals, Cam Talbot had another strong performance in between the pipes, and kept the Rangers afloat during the first two periods. Mats Zuccarello was also the Rangers best player up and down the ice, as he was creating chances practically every time he touched the puck.
This game was essentially a two period game, as neither team really had much jump early on in the first period, and there was only 10 shots on goal between both teams. Just to give you an idea of how bad it was, it took the Rangers over half of the period to get their first shot on goal, and their final four shots only came in the closing minutes. With both teams playing last night on the road, it's not much of a surprise that the first period was all out snoozefest.
Heading into the second period, the Rangers needed to have a much better start than the first, but it wound up being the exact opposite. Within the first three minutes, both Carl Hagelin and Dan Boyle were whistled down for penalties, and gave the Stars a massive 5-on-3 power play. Just 24 seconds into the two-man advantage, the Stars converted on a beautiful centering feed from Tyler Seguin to Jason Spezza, and took the early 1-0 lead.
With the Stars firing right out of the gate, you could sense that a goal was coming, especially when they went to work on the 5-on-3 power play. It took the Rangers a few minutes to collect themselves after the goal, and at the 15:27 mark, the Rangers finally found the tying goal. The goal all started with a strong forecheck by J.T. Miller, which took Jordie Benn out of the play with a hard hit. With Benn unable to retrieve the puck, Kevin Hayes swooped in the collect the loose puck, and fired it over to Carl Hagelin who was stationed on the far post.
No one seemed to pick up Hagelin standing all alone in the crease, and he tapped in the beautiful centering feed from Hayes to knot the game at 1-1. Following the goal, the Rangers appeared to fall back a slight bit, and allowed the Stars to dictate the play. After forcing a turnover in the defensive zone, Kevin Hayes coughed up a puck at the opposing blue line, and gave the Stars a 3-on-2 rush back the other way.
Jason Spezza was able to locate Erik Cole, who was trailing the play, and he ripped a hard shot through the legs of Cam Talbot. The puck appeared to take a slight redirection as it came in on net, and Talbot wasn't able to squeeze the pads together to keep it out of the net. Giving up a late go-ahead goal was a tough pill to swallow, but the Rangers turned that frustration into motivation for the third period.
The Rangers came out absolutely flying in the third period, and controlled pretty much the entire period as they were in search of the final goal. After coming up empty for the first 18 minutes, the Rangers had a huge opportunity late in the game after John Klingberg was mistakenly sent off for delay of game. Finally, with 1:20 remaining in regulation, the Rangers cashed in on a misplay by Kari Lehtonen, and Chris Kreider slammed home the game-tying goal.
Lehtonen was a little over confident after shutting down the Rangers in the third period, and decided to take it upon himself to clear the zone. Mats Zuccarello was all over the clearing attempt by Lehtonen, and fired a hard shot that wound up getting caught up in traffic. With Lehtonen still getting himself set after returning to the crease, Kreider was able to locate the loose puck, and slammed it into the empty net to send this game to overtime.
Despite a horrible start to this game, the Rangers found a way to respond in the third period, and stole a point they probably didn't deserve prior to the third period. As thrilling as it was to force overtime, the Stars went to work early in overtime, and eventually ended the game just a minute in. For whatever reason, three Rangers went to attack Jason Spezza coming into the zone, and that sent the entire team into panic mode in the defensive end.
No one was able to locate Ales Hemsky, and he broke into the middle of the ice after a pass from Jyrki Jokipakka, and ripped it under the bar. Talbot didn't really stand much of a chance on the goal, as he was fighting through a huge screen in front, and never saw the puck after it left Hemsky's stick.
It certainly could have gone much better for the Rangers this weekend, but it was an encouraging sign to see them come away with at least a point tonight. While the Rangers don't have the strongest of schedules coming up this month, they need to right the ship here pretty soon if they plan on surviving without Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers will be back in action Tuesday night as they visit the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.