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Rangers never say die in win at Dallas

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko celebrates his shorthanded goal at 2:49 of the second period. The goal pulled the Blueshirts into a tie with the Stars.

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By Jim Cerny,

For the eighth time in 17 games this season, the Rangers refused to acknowledge that a deficit entering the third period tends to result in a defeat in the NHL.

Instead, the Blueshirts wiped out a 2-1 deficit and earned a gritty 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars in a game decided by an overtime shootout Friday night at the American Airlines Center.

Mats Zuccarello, who scored the overtime game-winning goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Carolina, netted the only goal for either team in the shootout -- beating Kari Lehtonen after a brilliant deke and forehand finish in the second round.

Henrik Lundqvist, who made 28 saves over 65 minutes of play, stopped all three shots in the shootout, including Mike Ribeiro’s backhand attempt in the third round which sealed the victory for the Rangers.

“It’s a great feeling to secure the victory for the team, but Hank saved the three shots so he’s the big key for us today,” said Zuccarello. “And all of the other guys who played a helluva road game, and grinded it out for 65 minutes, helped us get these two points.”

The Rangers, who picked up their league-best 14th road win, are now 5-9-3 in games they have trailed this season after two periods of play.

“It’s so good for our confidence, and doing it a few times then you just know you can do it,” said Lundqvist, who picked up his 18th win of the season. “The key is not to open up just because you are trailing. Sooner or later you will get your chances to score. We are confident when we are behind that if we play good defense then when we get our chances we will bury it.”

In his first game back at Dallas since playing for the Stars in 2008-09, Rangers forward Sean Avery had a triumphant return against his former teammates.
One of the league’s most successful teams in games they trail after two periods of play, the Rangers erased a one-goal deficit in the third period when Artem Anisimov scored his 10th goal of the season at 8:04 to tie the game 2-2.

The goal was Anisimov’s first in nine games, and was assisted by Marc Staal, who played another monster two-way game, and Lundqvist, the Rangers’ netminder who now has a career-high three assists on the season -- and two in the last two games.

“Hank made some big saves and gave us confidence,” said Anisimov. “We are a team, and everyone helps each other, and everyone can make big plays and score big goals at key times. Tonight it was me.”

Anisimov’s goal was scored on the power play -- the Rangers’ first power-play goal in five games. However when afforded another power play late in the third period when Dallas was caught with too many men on the ice, the Rangers could not convert again, and the game remained tied through the end of regulation.

Despite playing a very strong first 40 minutes, the Rangers found themselves trailing after two periods of play. Brian Sutherby opened the scoring for Dallas at 7:55 of the first, before Ruslan Fedotenko pulled the visitors even with a shorthanded goal at 2:49 of the second period.

However Ribeiro scored a power play goal at 10:20 of the middle stanza to reinstate Dallas’ one goal lead, an advantage which they would carry into the final period action.

“I thought we played a great road game,” said Lundqvist. “We kept it very simple against a team that has been playing very good hockey. We gained momentum as the game moved on and got a big win.”

On the first goal of the game, both Lundqvist and defenseman Ryan McDonagh -- making his NHL debut with Michal Rozsival sidelined due to sore ribs -- were late coming out from behind the net after attempting to play the puck. Dallas’ Brandon Segal collected the disc and zipped a pass out front to Sutherby on right wing, and Sutherby scored his second of the season by beating Lundqvist to the short side just as McDonagh reached out in a futile effort to block the shot.

Dallas had been extremely successful when scoring the first goal this season, winning 19 of 21 such contests entering play on Friday.

Rangers rookie Dale Weise did not hesitate to take on Dallas veteran tough guy Steve Ott in a fight at 7:25 of the first, period and spirited bout ensued.
Fedotenko scored the Rangers’ league-leading ninth shorthanded goal of the season to tie the game early in the second period. With Chris Drury charging to the net, taking some of Lehtonen’s attention from the shooter, Fedotenko snuck a right-wing shot between the Dallas netminder’s pads for his eighth goal.

The Stars, though, answered back on the power play eight minutes later, again taking advantage of Lundqvist trying to get set between the pipes. This time Lundqvist made a strong pad save through traffic -- and as the puck went behind the net -- he battled to get up and cover the other side of the net. Before he could fully get set, Ribeiro converted Loui Erikkson’s quick pass from behind the net and the Stars were back in front 2-1.

Both teams were sharp in all aspects of the game -- creating quality scoring chances, playing strong physical defense, and receiving top-tier goaltending.

Drury and fourth-line teammate Dale Weise helped set the tone of this game in the opening period. First, Drury delivered a thunderous check behind the Stars’ net that left defenseman Trevor Daley in a heap on the ice. And then at 7:25 the rookie Weise took on one of the league’s most agitating players -- Dallas winger Steve Ott -- in a rousing fight in which Ott landed a clean left hand to the jaw before Weise responded by doubling up Ott with a hammering blow to the ribs.

Sean Avery made his first return to Dallas since being claimed from the Stars on re-entry waivers by the Rangers on March 3, 2009. Although he was booed loudly in the first period when he carried the puck up ice, the Dallas fans largely ignored Avery -- who had a brief, but tumultuous tenure with the Stars in 2008-09.

On the ice Avery bounced between lines as Rangers head coach John Tortorella juggled his combinations much of the night. Avery was on the receiving end of a questionable knee-on-knee hit delivered by defenseman Stephane Robidas early in the third period, which, fortunately, did not end up in an injury to Avery.

Following the game, the Rangers immediately headed out to St. Louis where they will face-off with the Blues on Saturday night.

“It’s just a great feeling to come out with a win,” said Lundqvist. “And especially so when you work hard the whole game and have another big game (Saturday).”
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