The Dallas Stars have been rolling on the road lately, but getting on track at home has been a different story. The Stars’ winless streak at American Airlines Center hit four games (0-2-2) after a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers Thursday night.
The Rangers scored two goals in a 37-second span early in the third period to turn a 1-1 game into a 3-1 lead and then held off the Stars the rest of the way.
“It was a 1-1 game going into the third period. We've got to find a way to get those points. We didn't, so it's disappointing,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas.
The Stars outshot the Rangers 43-27 in the game, but Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 41 shots.
“Unbelievable, you can talk about him every single night,” said Rangers forward Rick Nash. “Again tonight, he was the best player on the ice and he was the difference.”
The Stars, who lost for just the second time in their last eight games, fell to 3-3-2 at home and are now 11-8-2 on the season.
The Stars dominated play in the first period, outshooting the Rangers 23-6, but the period belonged to Lundqvist. He stopped all 23 shots he faced, and assisted on the period’s only goal to put the Rangers up 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
“You have to love the first period, but we didn’t get anything out of it,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “You’ve got to give Lundqvist credit, he made some big saves.”
The Rangers went on the game’s first power play at 5:51 when Stars forward Ryan Garbutt was called for tripping in the offensive zone, and they cashed in to take a 1-0 lead. After the Stars cleared the puck out of their end, Lundqvist sent a long pass to Ryan Callahan, who set up Rick Nash on a breakaway and Nash beat Kari Lehtonen at the 6:27 mark.
“We came out with a 1-0 deficit on a play where we're dumping the puck down the ice penalty killing, which is a mental mistake,” said Ruff. “Dump it on the goaltender, get caught for a breakaway. That can't happen. So you can't be happy with that."
The Stars had a couple of power play chances in the period, had six shots on goal but couldn’t get one past Lundqvist.
The Stars went on their third power play of the night at 7:05 of the second period and cashed in for their first power play goal at home this season to tie the game. A Robidas shot from the point deflected off traffic to make it a 1-1 game at the 8:46 mark.
The Stars had two more power play chances in the second , but couldn’t take advantage. The Rangers had a couple of good scoring chances late in the second and momentum carried over into the third period.
The Rangers scored twice in 37 seconds early in the third to take a 3-1 lead. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Chris Kreider scored off the rush from the top of the right circle at the 1:18 mark to put the Rangers on top by a 2-1 score.
“That could have been one of his worst attempts on net. It deflected off their stick and went in the back of the net,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. “Sometimes you need a little bit of puck luck.”
The Rangers took a 3-1 lead when John Moore scored on a shot from the left point at the 1:55 mark of the third.
"They just took over the game right from the get go,” Robidas said. “They had good pressure and they were ready to come back at us and we didn't match their work ethic on those plays."
The Stars cut the lead to 3-2 when Alex Chiasson scored off a two-on-one rush with 11:33 left in the game, taking a pass from Cody Eakin and beating Lundqvist with a snap shot from the slot.
Just 12 seconds later Nash got a penalty shot for the Rangers, but Lehtonen made a pad save on Nash’s bid to keep the Stars within one goal.
The Stars had a great chance with just under three minutes remaining when Jamie Benn slipped by two defenders and got off a shot from the slot, but his bid was denied by Lundqvist.
“The biggest save of the game was on Benn’s play, which was an unbelievable individual effort,” said Ruff. “That was the biggest save of the game, or that game was tied.”
The Stars pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker with just over a minute remaining, but couldn’t get the equalizer and Lundqvist and the Rangers held on for the 3-2 victory.
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.