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Rangers hand Stars their third straight loss, 6-2

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars’ first losing streak of the season hit three games with a 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.

The loss wrapped up an 0-2-1 road trip for the Stars, who have now lost five straight on the road (0-3-2) and have just one win in their past eight road games (1-4-3).

Tuesday night in New York, the Stars gave up six goals for the second consecutive game and for the third time in the past five.

“We really totally embarrassed ourselves,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.

It was a particularly rough night for Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Both players finished with a minus-three rating and were benched for the final 12 minutes of the game by Ruff.

“They had a tough night. There’s no getting around it,” said Ruff. “They were in on a lot of opportunities against and at the end of the night I just didn’t play them anymore.”

Benn and Seguin agreed with Ruff – they need to be better.

“It’s just me not leading the way,” Benn said. “I did a good job of leading the way in the not so good part of the game tonight. It’s embarrassing. I played a terrible game and let my teammates down.”

Said Seguin: “It starts with myself and our whole line and how we’ve been playing this whole trip. We need to lead by example, and we’ve been cheating offensively and leaving our goalie hanging to dry. We need to get back to basics.”

John Klingberg and Antoine Roussel scored for Dallas. Stars goaltender Antti Niemi stopped 23 of 29 shots.

“He made three or four great saves to let us hang around,” Ruff said of Niemi. “We knocked one in, we deflected one in, so if you look at the breakaway saves and the other couple tough saves he made, he gave us a chance when the game was still 2-1 and 3-1.”

The Stars (28-10-4) have played seven games in eleven days since the NHL’s holiday break and are 2-3-2. They’ll play an eighth game in 13 days when they take on Winnipeg Thursday in Dallas.

“Well it’s a challenge because there isn’t much time to regroup,” Ruff said. “When you get out of this, you usually need a few days to let your team rest and come out of it, but we don’t have that luxury.”

Derek Stepan scored two goals, and Jayson Megna recorded one goal and one assist for the Rangers (22-14-4).

“There’s no doubt that we played a good game tonight,” said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. “We came out with a good battle level. Execution was good.”

Stepan scored from close range to put the Rangers up 1-0 at the 1:56 mark of the first period. The Stars killed off two New York power plays early in the first to keep it a one-goal game and then pulled even when Jason Spezza set up Klingberg, who scored from the right circle off the rush at the 13:50 mark. But 18 seconds later, the Stars turned over the puck in their own end, and Keith Yandle’s shot from the point made it through a maze of bodies and past Niemi to put the Rangers up 2-1.

“Timely goals,” said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “When you are able to answer back like that after a bad goal it’s big for the team. We were back on track right away, no thinking.”

The Stars had two power play chances in the second period, but could not take advantage. Niemi came up with a couple of big saves in the second to keep it a one-goal game, stopping Stepan on a shorthanded breakaway and denying a point-blank bid by Megna. But the Rangers extended the lead to 3-1 late in the period when a Derick Brassard shot bounced off Stars defenseman Jason Demers and then was knocked over the goal line by Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya as he tried to clear it away.

Stepan scored shorthanded 4:55 into the third to make it a 4-1 game and just under three minutes later Viktor Stalberg tallied to extend New York’s lead to 5-1. Roussel scored off a pass from Spezza at the 8:40 mark to cut the Rangers’ lead to 5-2.

And then the Stars appeared to make it 5-3 on a Valeri Nichushkin goal at the 13:06 mark, but the Rangers challenged the play saying that the Stars entered the zone offside. Replays showed the Rangers were right, and the goal was waved off. Megna scored 32 seconds later off a pass from Rick Nash and the Rangers lead was 6-2.

And a short time later the Stars were heading home riding a three-game losing streak.

“Last year, we lost too many games in a row and this year we have done a great job of not doing that. Now we’ve lost a few in a row and have a chance to make a difference and stop it right away,” Spezza said. “This is a test for us. It’s an 82-game season, and it’s not all going to be roses. And you almost don’t want it to be. You want a little adversity. Now we get a chance to not let last year creep into this year and stop a losing streak.”

*Jason Spezza had two assists in the game, giving him 500 for his career.

*The Rangers outshot the Stars 29-23 and had a 57-53 advantage in shot attempts.

*Jason Demers and Patrick Sharp led the Stars with four shots on goal each.

*John Klingberg led the Stars with seven attempted shots.

*The Stars were 0-3 on the power play and 3-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 25 of 57 faceoffs (44 percent).

*Cody Eakin won 10 of 16 faceoffs (63 percent). Tyler Seguin won 4 of 9 (44 percent). Jason Spezza won 7 of 17 (41 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 11 (36 percent).

*Jason Demers led Dallas with 27:03 of ice time.

The Stars return to Dallas for a two-game homestand that will see them play Winnipeg (Thursday) and Minnesota (Saturday).

Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Sharp

Mattias JanmarkJason SpezzaValeri Nichushkin

Antoine RousselCody EakinColton Sceviour

Travis MoenVernon FiddlerPatrick Eaves

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jyrki JokipakkaJordie Benn

Antti Niemi

Kari Lehtonen

Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, Radek Faksa

Injured: Ales Hemsky (lower body)

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 reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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