The Dallas Stars bounced back from a disappointing loss in Buffalo Saturday night by showing some resiliency Sunday in New York City. The Stars shook off a late game-tying goal and defeated the Rangers, 3-2, in overtime to snap a three-game winless streak.
“We were disappointed to lose that game in Buffalo, and I thought it was a great team effort tonight to win against a tough team in a tough building on a back-to-back,” Stars center Jason Spezza said.
“It helps you believe again because we’ve had some tough stuff happen to us,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “To win in overtime, that helps us. It’s been a little bit of a struggle.”
Ales Hemsky scored off a shot from the slot 1:02 into overtime to give the Stars their first win in four-on-four overtime in seven tries this season.
“I was open in the middle and could get in position for a shot. There were a lot of bodies in front, and I just wanted to put it on the net,” Hemsky said. “You just hope it will go in, and it went it in. I was happy about that.”
Kari Lehtonen, called out by Ruff after Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay, turned away 34 shots, including 19 in the third period when the Rangers outshot the Stars 20-2. The only blemish on Lehtonen’s night was the game-tying goal when his turnover and rebound off a shot led to the goal.
“It was a good one with the struggles and not playing yesterday,” Lehtonen said. “Things started rolling in the second period and then I was too nice of a guy and wanted to give an Eastern Conference team a point. That was the only thing that messed up a nice night.”
“Kari played really well,” Ruff said. “He got in the net and he looked good and he looked composed. I like the way he played. He made a big mistake late and then his teammates covered up for him. Both parts are good. I think he was there in the third when we were hemmed in a few times and at the end the guys were there for him.”
Jason Spezza had one goal and two assists, Hemsky tallied a goal and an assist and Erik Cole also scored for the Stars, who improved to 24-21-8 on the season and pulled to within five points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 29 games remaining.
“If you want to make the playoffs you need every point,” Hemsky said. “We’ve lost some points lately by beating ourselves. Tonight, we got a break and got a win. Hopefully, we can keep going.”
The Rangers dropped their second straight game (0-1-1) and fell to 3-3-1 since the All-Star break. They hold the first wild card spot in the East, but are within four points of first place in the Metropolitan Division.
“One (point) is better than zero, but two is better than one," Rangers center Kevin Hayes said. "We always want the two points. Just look at the standings, and you see why they are important. We weren't good tonight, right from the start, and didn't play a full 60 (minutes).”
There was no scoring in the first period. Both teams, who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, had five shots on goal each. The action picked up in the second. There were a total of 28 shots and three goals. The Stars opened the scoring early in the second, cashing in on a five-on-three power play. Spezza slid down the crease, took a pass from Tyler Seguin and put it past Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot at the 2:53 mark. It was the tenth power play goal in the past seven games for the Stars.
“We’re starting to get more familiarity with each other. We’re more cohesive,” Spezza said. “We’ve been practicing it a lot and taking more pride in it lately. I’m a feel guy on the power play, in and out of the seams. We were pretty organized on that five-on-three, and that’s how I got a pretty good look.”
The Rangers answered at the 15:27 mark when Hayes set up Carl Hagelin, who tapped the puck into the open side of the net to make it a 1-1 game. The Stars regained the lead less than three minutes later when Hayes turned over the puck at the Dallas blue line and the result was Cole scoring on the rush to put Dallas ahead 2-1 at 18:05 of the second.
The Rangers outshot the Stars 20-2 in the third period and tied the game with 1:20 remaining with a power play goal. With Stars defenseman John Klingberg in the box on a questionable delay of game penalty, Mats Zuccarello picked off a Lehtonen pass, put a shot on net and Chris Kreider knocked home the rebound.
That set the stage for extra playing time and Hemsky’s overtime heroics.
“We’ve been on the wrong end of games we’ve dominated, and it was nice to get two points in a game where they outplayed us in the third period,” Spezza said. “Anyway would have felt good after last night.”
*The Stars are 3-8 in games settled beyond regulation. They are 1-6 in four-on-four overtime and 2-2 in shootouts.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and are 10-29 (34.5 percent) on the PP over the past seven games.
*The Stars were 2-3 on the penalty kill.
*The Rangers outshot the Stars 36-25.
*The Stars are 14-7-4 when outshot by the opposition. They are 7-14-4 when they outshoot the opposition. They are 3-0-0 when shots are even.
*Patrick Eaves led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*The Stars blocked 18 shots Sunday. Jyrki Jokipakka led Dallas with four blocks.
*The Stars won 41 of 69 faceoffs (59 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 11 of 14 (79 percent). Jason Spezza won 13 of 18 (72 percent). Cody Eakin won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 7 of 14 (50 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 24:22 of ice time.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Brett Ritchie
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Jyrki Jokipakka – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Scratched: Colton Sceviour, David Schlemko
Injured: Travis Moen (lower body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.