Rangers vs. Stars: Ondrej Pavelec Steals a Point But Rangers Fall in the Shootout

The New York Rangers did not deserve two points tonight with the way they played, but thankfully, Ondrej Pavelec was an absolute monster in the crease. Pavelec’s 40 save effort tonight salvaged a point for the Rangers after they looked absolutely miserable for the opening two periods.

There was no flow to their attack, passes weren’t hitting their marks, they were disjointed in their own zone and were simply dominated in all aspects of the game tonight. Despite the horrendous start, the Rangers somehow remain tied at zero due largely in part to Pavelec’s spectacular performance.

The dam was bound to eventually break with the Dallas Stars’ constant offensive zone pressure and they finally broke the scoreless tie at 6:30 of the second period. Julius Honka was the recipient of the Stars first goal after absolutely unloading a slap shot from just above the center hash marks. Honka had an eternity to pick his spot as he slid down and buried the puck past Pavelec on the blocker side.

The Stars’ lead would remain intact through the end of the second period as the Rangers continued with their offensive struggles. Finally, with a little under four minutes remaining the Rangers got their game going and caught a bit of a luck bounce as a result.

The play started with a point shot coming in on goal from Brady Skjei and the puck wound up bouncing in off of Rick Nash’s knee in front of the net. Kari Lehtonen pleaded for a goaltender inference call, which Ken Hitchcock promptly challenged, but the call was upheld after a short review.

Rick Nash’s goal sent this game to overtime where both teams traded chances at either of the ice. Unlike the previous 60 minutes, the game completely opened up and the Rangers had several chances to steal a second point. Their best chance of the overtime period came with under a minute remaining as Pavel Buchnevich sent the puck over to Ryan McDonagh.

Unfortunately, the pass was just a tad bit behind McDonagh’s stick and that would send this game to the infamous shootout to decide a winner.

Mats Zuccarello opened the scoring for the Rangers in the shootout with a sneaky snap  shot that beat Kari Lehtonen over the right shoulder. Alexander Radulov immediately tied the game back up on the ensuing shot after he stumbled, but still slipped the puck under Pavelec’s pads. Following two failed attempts by David Desharnais and Kevin Shattenkirk, Jason Spezza had a chance to end the game in the third round.

He took the opportunity with ease and buried the puck over Pavelec on a slick move to the backhand at the top of the crease. The biggest loser of tonight’s game was Ondrej Pavelec, who deserved so much more than the single point the Rangers were able to salvage.

He played out of his mind tonight for the Rangers and now has two consecutive starts with at least 40 saves in each game. After tonight’s miserable effort, the Rangers know they need to be better and will have an opportunity to rebound on Wednesday night against the struggling Ottawa Senators.