The Rangers came into this game with a 6-2-1 record in their last nine, needing a win to keep the momentum going. They showed great poise and great determination, eliminating deficits twice before finally taking the lead with two minutes remaining in the game for the big win. The Rangers could have complained after the first goal when the refs missed a call, but they recognized the breakdowns, didn’t do it again, and fought back. That is what veteran teams with Stanley Cup aspirations do.
Henrik Lundqvist played another strong game, making 24 saves, including 15 in the final 37 minutes to keep the Rangers within a goal, then to keep the game tied, then to preserve the lead. New York delivered 37 (home scoring bias warning) hits. Even with the home scoring bias, we saw visually they were hitting everything that moved. These are the black-and-Blueshirts we remembered. They won’t get back to the team they were in 2012, but they can get to it when they need to. They needed to last night.
On to the goals:
Stars 1, Rangers 0
Despite what everyone on Twitter thought, this goal was not on Lundqvist. The issues started when Ryan Garbutt got his stick between the legs of Marc Staal on the chase to the puck in the corner, tripping him up (no call). While that was a problem, it wasn’t THE problem. Basic defensive zone coverage calls for one defenseman to chase the puck to the corner and the other to stay in front of the net. Staal, the LD in this situation, should be the one chasing the puck to the left corner. Anton Stralman, the RD, should be the one in front of the net to break up any passes.
The other problem on this goal is that no forwards backchecked. In the picture above, there is not one forward in the view. Perhaps a backchecking forward can tie up Cody Eakin –Derick Brassard got the minus, so I can assume Eakin was his man– before he can get the shot off. If Stralman plays where he’s supposed to play, perhaps he gets a stick on the pass from Garbutt to Eakin. Or perhaps a forward picks up Antoine Roussel so Stralman can commit to Eakin.
None of that happened, and Hank was lucky to get a piece of that shot on what was a 2-on-0 at point-blank range. This goal had a lot of fail all over it.
Rangers 1, Stars 1
Benoit Pouliot and Brad Richards combined for a pretty play to stay onsides. Pouliot skated past the puck, which was in the offensive zone, to get onsides, and waited for Richards to get back onsides before chipping the puck to an open area and allowing Richards to skate to the puck as Ryan Callahan trailed the play. Tyler Seguin was caught watching the play from the netural zone, Sergei Gonchar didn’t get all of the pass to Cally, and Jamie Benn got outmuscled by Cally for the goal.
Stars 2, Rangers 1
Eakin made a good defensive play to strip Dom Moore of the puck in the defensive zone and transition the rush to offense. The Rangers got caught with four men deep (Staal the defenseman caught deep), leading to a 2-on-1 for Roussel and Garbutt. Roussel was able to hit Garbutt with the pass and Garbutt just finished.
Rangers 2, Stars 2
With the Rangers on the powerplay, Richards received the puck from Mats Zuccarello at the point, and then fed the puck back to him at the half boards. Zucc threaded the needle to Brassard, who was in between three Stars defenders, for the one-touch goal. Very pretty, and it appears to be a set play. That’s not the first time we’ve seen that.
Rangers 3, Stars 2
How about that Rick Nash? Nash, who did not have good position on the puck in front, just outmuscled Aaron Rome (I think) while falling down, chipping the puck over Lehtonen for the game winner.
Talking about a back and forth game. There was no distinct advantage for either club when it came to puck possession. Dallas had a sharp uptick at the end of the game as they pushed to tie, but that’s the only real trend here. I do want to point out the long flat red line for Dallas as the second period ended and the third started. The Rangers had a powerplay at the beginning of the third, but that was a long stretch to keep Dallas from registering a Fenwick event.
So the Rangers are now 7-2-1 in their last ten, earning 15 of 20 possible points. They have a showdown in MSG against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in what is the biggest game of the year to date. With the win, New York leapfrogged three teams (Carolina, Detroit, Toronto) into 7th in the Eastern Conference. This team is rolling.