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game recap

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers blank Stars

Goalie makes 27 saves in return to New York net

by Sean Shapiro / NHL.com Correspondent

DALLAS -- Henrik Lundqvist returned to the New York Rangers net and made 27 saves in a 2-0 win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Thursday.

Rick Nash scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 7:08 of the third period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.

Lundqvist was playing for the first time since Dec. 6. Antti Raanta started the past four games for New York (21-10-1).

"All I can say is that I went out there tonight with a lot of desperation in my approach," Lundqvist said. "I felt like it was an important game for me to just feel good. My game hasn't changed over a week, but my mindset has changed a little bit with everything that's going on, and it is a new experience for me."

 

WATCH: All Rangers vs. Stars highlights

 

Lundqvist did not get his second shutout of the season because Raanta replaced him for 5:31 of the first period after Cody Eakin crashed into him behind the net at 9:19.

"I didn't see him coming at all," Lundqvist said. "[The trainer] came out and told me, 'You have to leave right away.' … Felt pretty good. Did a quick test and tried to rush to come back out there because I really wanted to play."

Eakin was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct.

It was the first shared shutout in Rangers history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Raanta did not face any shots.

Video: Rangers earn Thursday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

Nash took advantage of a turnover by Jamie Benn and beat goalie Antti Niemi with a wrist shot over his left shoulder for the game-winner.

"That's a stupid play on that. When you play a good team like that, you've got to make them make the first mistake," Benn said. "It was my fault. I'll take the blame for this one."

Mats Zuccarello scored into an empty net with 1:04 remaining to make it 2-0. His eighth goal of the season ended a 14-game drought.

Lundqvist was at his best on the penalty kill, when he made nine saves to help the Rangers kill five Stars power plays. In the second period, he made point-blank pad saves on Benn and Devin Shore.

Niemi made 28 saves for Dallas (12-14-6).

Video: NYR@DAL: Lundqvist turns away multiple attempts

 

Goal of the game

Nash stole Benn's pass for Jason Spezza along the Rangers blue line, skated the length of the ice and beat Niemi from between the circles above the hash marks. "I made a pretty early [decision] just after watching Chris [Kreider] try it on his breakaway. I thought [Niemi] was kind of cheating the deke and thought I could catch him a quick shot and kind of catch him off guard," said Nash, who returned to the lineup after missing the past four games with a groin injury.

Video: NYR@DAL: Nash intercepts puck and races in for SHG

 

Save of the game

Lundqvist got his right pad on Benn's one-timer from the top of the crease off Spezza's no-look, between-the-legs backhand pass from behind the net at 10:31 of the second period with Dallas on its second power play.

 

Highlight of the game

Lundqvist made a left-pad save against Shore from the slot with 3:24 left in the second period with New York shorthanded. "He's our best player and one of the best goalies in the world. He's been a leader on this team for 12, 13 years. He's a reason why this team has had so much success. I'm not really surprised that he comes back with that effort," Nash said.

 

Unsung performance of the game

The Rangers limited the Stars to three shots in the third period after allowing 18 in the second. "We talked about getting a little bit greasier and getting through that neutral zone, which we did in the third and obviously took away their transition game, which hurt us in the second period," New York coach Alain Vigneault said.

 

They said it

"We expect that from [Henrik Lundqvist] or [Antti Raanta] every game. We expect our goaltenders to give us a chance to win. What [Lundqvist] did tonight, that's what their goaltender did. It was a hard-fought battle. Both teams had some luck, and Rick Nash scored us a big goal and that was the difference in the game." -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault

 

"I was coming in pretty fast, I was trying to create some energy and my intention was to go for the puck and not make contact with him or his head. It's a collision that my momentum carried me a little bit off my feet." -- Stars forward Cody Eakin on crashing into Henrik Lundqvist in the first period

 

Video: NYR@DAL: Lundqvist returns to backstop team shutout

 

Need to know

New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh was back in the lineup after missing a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday with the flu. … Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak was eligible to play after serving a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Philadelphia Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde on Saturday, but he was a healthy scratch.

 

What's next

Rangers: At the Nashville Predators on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-TN, MSG 2, NHL.TV)

Stars: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (2 p.m. ET; FS-SW+, CSN-PH, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Lundqvist, defense dazzles in Rangers' 2-0 win

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