Goalie controversy, you say? Henrik Lundqvist would like to have a word with you.
The New York Rangers, backed by Henrik Lundqvist, shutdown the Dallas Stars tonight by a final score of 2-0. Tonight was also quite the return for Lundqvist, who not only pitched the shutout, but also had to leave the game for a short time following a disgusting hit from Cody Eakin (more on that later). It was also fitting that this game included an incredible goaltending duel, which played out quite well in Lundqvist’s favor.
During the first two periods, neither team was able to get much of anything regardless of the chances they created. Jamie Benn can attest to that, and so can Chris Kreider. Things took an interesting turn around the halfway mark of the first period, when Cody Eakin absolutely destroyed Henrik Lundqvist while playing the puck behind the net.
Usually players attempt to avoid contact in that situation, because after all, goalies are considered fair game. However, Eakin did exactly the opposite by lowering his shoulder, and following through with upward check that sent Lundqvist and his helmet flying. As a result, Lundqvist was forced to leave the game as per the league concussion protocol, while Eakin was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for charging.
Unfortunately, the Rangers were unable to find the go ahead goal on the ensuing five minute power play, and went into the locker room knotted at zero. That would remain the case until the third period, where Rick Nash finally broke the scoreless tie with a shorthanded breakaway goal. Nash made a great play to jump into the passing lane, and picked off Jamie Benn’s pass attempt to create the breakaway opportunity.
Just as he hit the hash marks, Nash absolutely bombed a snap shot off of the inside bar to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Following the goal, the Rangers did an excellent job of keeping the Stars contained in the offensive zone, which eventually paved the way for Mats Zuccarello’s empty net goal.
That goal not only sealed the game for the Rangers, but also broke an extended goal drought for Zuccarello. Much like Brandon Pirri against the Devils, you could clearly see the relief on Zuccarello’s face once the puck went in. Hopefully that will get him going, as the Rangers continue to get healthy bodies back into the lineup.
The Rangers will be back in action this coming Saturday where they will matchup with the Nashville Predators in Music City.