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Rangers score late to edge Stars, 3-2

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After allowing six goals or more in three of their past four games, the Dallas Stars tightened up defensively Saturday against the New York Rangers, but it wasn’t enough to add up to two points. The Stars fell to 1-4-1 in their past six games, losing 3-2 to the New York Rangers at American Airlines Center.

“I think it was a step forward, but the result was the same. Not too happy about that,” said Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen.

“I thought our compete and our battle, our chances of not giving up the rush plays, were good,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “Our tracking back and our backchecking were probably the best it's been in a long time. It was a game we could have easily won.”

The Stars overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie the game but Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein’s goal with 2:58 remaining in the third period snapped the tie and lifted New York to victory.

The Stars also battled back from a tough call in the game. A minute after the Rangers went up 2-1 in the third period, Stars center Jason Spezza’s shot during a scramble at the New York net slid across the goal line and then under New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The referee did not indicate a goal on the ice, but the play went to video review. After a lengthy review, it was ruled no goal because video evidence was inconclusive.

“I thought it was a goal from where I was,” Spezza said. “There was no call on the ice, and they said it was inconclusive, so I don’t know.”

“I think everybody knows the puck is in,” said Lehtonen, “but from those angles it just doesn’t show the last little bit of evidence that you need, so that was frustrating. I thought it was going the other way, but it didn’t. We kept battling and came back which was good, but it wasn’t enough.”

Colton Sceviour and Valeri Nichushkin scored for the Stars. Lehtonen got the start in goal and stopped 26 of 29 shots.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots for the Rangers, who won for the fourth time in their past five games and improved to 9-2-1 over their past twelve.

“I thought the whole game was just a big battle, a great game,” said Lundqvist. “Two teams that play physical and a lot of energy, the building was going too, so I think everybody enjoyed it. Obviously, the way we finished, it’s a really good feeling. In the end, we had the bounces with us.”

There was no scoring in the first period, but there were chances. Lundqvist stopped Nichushkin as he broke in on net for a close-range shot. Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak came up with a big play to stop a scoring chance by Rangers forward Dominic Moore. New York’s J.T. Miller rang a shot off the post.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead 4:38 into the second, taking advantage of the game’s first power play. Chris Kreider deflected a Keith Yandle shot from the point past Lehtonen. The Stars drew even at the 9:08 mark when Tyler Seguin put a shot on net from the right circle and Sceviour swept the rebound past Lundqvist to tie the game 1-1.

There were more scoring chances in the second. Lundqvist stopped Nichushkin on another point blank bid and then made a slick save on a quality chance by Seguin. Lehtonen stopped a good look by Mats Zuccarello. Rangers forward Derek Stepan was setting up for a quality look from the slot, but Stars defenseman Jordie Benn took him out with a big hit. And the game stayed 1-1 heading to what proved to be an eventful third period.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh put the Rangers up 2-1 when his backhand shot from the right corner bounced off Lehtonen, who was trying to get back into position, and into the net at the 8:26 mark.

“I made a save and wasn't sure where the puck went. I saw it in the corner, and I needed to get back to the net, but he was smarter than me,” Lehtonen said. “He knew that's what I'm going to do, and he banked it off of me. Frustrating goal for sure.”

A little more than a minute later the Spezza shot that slid across the goal line went to video review but was ruled no goal. Nichushkin scored at the 15:59 mark, putting a shot on net that deflected off the stick of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and past Lundqvist.

But 68 seconds later, Klein scored on a shot from the slot, and the Rangers had a 3-2 lead they would hold until the final horn.

“It’s frustrating they scored the third goal because I thought we showed good composure [after the no goal call],” said Spezza. “We kept pressing and had full control of the period at that point, had the no-goal call, but still kept pushing and got [Nichushkin’s] goal. It was a frustrating result because I thought we did some good things tonight.”

Stars forward Ales Hemsky left Saturday’s game due to illness. Hemsky played the first period but did not take any shifts after the 17-minute mark.

“He left with some stomach pain and right now we don’t know what it is,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “It’s nothing that happened during the game, he was just getting some pain that had him doubled over, but we haven’t got an update yet.”

Ruff said forward Travis Moen, who has been out with a groin injury, is ready to return to the lineup. Patrick Eaves, who has been out due to illness, isn’t close to returning, Ruff said.

*The Stars have lost three straight at home and four of their past five at American Airlines Center.

*The Stars outshot the Rangers 38-29 and had an 85-61 advantage in shot attempts.

*Valeri Nichushkin and Tyler Seguin co-led the Stars with 7 shots on goal. Seguin was tops with 13 shot attempts.

*The Stars had no power plays in the game. That’s the first time this season they have not had a power play in a game. They’ve had one power play six times this season.

*The Stars were 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 35 of 64 faceoffs (55 percent)

*Tyler Seguin won 10 of 15 faceoffs (67 percent). Cody Eakin won 9 of 15 (60 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 8 (50 percent). Mattias Janmark won 3 of 11 (27 percent).

*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 24:24 of ice time.

*Saturday’s attendance was 18,532, a sellout. That’s the 14th straight sellout for the Stars and the 21st of the season.

The Stars wrap up their three-game homestand when they take on the Detroit Red Wings Monday at American Airlines Center.

Jamie BennTyler SeguinJason Spezza

Antoine RousselCody EakinPatrick Sharp

Valeri NichushkinMattias JanmarkAles Hemsky

Radek FaksaVernon FiddlerColton Sceviour

Alex Goligoski
John Klingberg

Johnny OduyaJason Demers

Jamie OleksiakJordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Antti Niemi

Travis Moen (groin), Patrick Eaves (illness)

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Patrik Nemeth

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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