That one was a little too close for comfort.
The New York Rangers came away with two huge points tonight, and defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 thanks to Kevin Klein's goal late in the third period. The Stars, who are ranked second overall in the NHL, certainly gave the Rangers a run for their money this afternoon, but the Rangers found a way to hang on. Henrik Lundqvist did his part once again, and stood on his head when the Stars created pressure in the offensive zone.
The start of this game really didn't contain much action, with both teams playing conservatively and trying to force the other team into a mistake. As a result, the game remained scoreless after 20 minutes, with the Stars out-shooting the Rangers 10-8. Then, things started to pick up quite a bit in the second period. Just four minutes into the middle frame, Chris Kreider got the Rangers on the board with a power play goal.
Keith Yandle did an excellent job of creating a shooting lane at the blue line, and he fired a quick shot towards the net. Kreider was posted up in front of the net, and fooled Lehtonen with a slick deflection just at the top of the crease. That lead would only last a few minutes, as the Stars answered right back with a goal coming from Colton Sceviour. Henrik Lundqvist was unable to handle the rebound off to the side of the net, and Sceviour tapped the puck home on the empty net.
After coughing up their lead rather quickly, the Rangers looked to respond early in the third period. Sure enough, just eight minutes in, Ryan McDonagh beat Lehtonen from behind the net with a trick shot and restored the Rangers one goal lead. At that point, the Rangers looked to be in control, but with about four minutes remaining, the Stars came storming back.
Valeri Nichushkin's shot wound up deflecting off of Dan Girardi's stick as he fired it from the top of the circle, and it beat Henrik Lundqvist over the shoulder. There's not much that could have been done to prevent this goal, other than the unfortunate bounce then went in Dallas' favor. Following the tying goal, the Rangers went right back on the attack and it paid off immensely.
With under three minutes remaining in regulation, Jesper Fast made an excellent play along the boards to keep the puck in the zone. He then dished off a quick pass to Stepan, who tapped the puck back to Klein sliding in from the point. Klein wasted no time and absolutely roofed the puck over Lehtnonen and gave the Rangers the lead once again. This time around, the Rangers held on for the final two and a half minutes and came away with two huge points.
Given the Rangers recent success, they will most likely be heavy buyers heading into Monday's trade deadline, which means this team could look considerably different in the coming days. Following the 3:00 PM deadline, the Rangers will prepare for the final stretch of the season, and meet up with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden.