After lighting up the scoreboard in their last two games, the Rangers had reason to expect continuing offensive success against Dallas last night.
They were facing goalie Richard Bachman, whose NHL experience spanned all of three games.
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But there was Bachman at the end, stopping everything the Rangers threw at him. Then a goal by the Stars' Trevor Daley at 15:01 of the third period was enough to beat the Rangers, 1-0, at Madison Square Garden.
"I don't know who he is," Rangers coach John Tortorella said of Bachman, "but he's played well for them."
Bachman, who saved 26 of 27 shots in his first career start on Saturday, stymied the Rangers with 34 saves and kept Dallas in the game long enough for Daley's shot to squirt under Henrik Lundqvist.
"I got in position and he kind of went side-to-side a couple of times and then finally got it between my pads there," said Lundqvist, who made 27 saves. "It's frustrating not to come up with any points in this game."
After three games in four days, the Rangers were far from as crisp as they were in Sunday's 6-1 win over Florida. The game began slowly, with both teams seemingly feeling each other out for most of the first period. They totaled only seven shots in the first 12 minutes.
The Stars came into the game 30th in the league in total offense, having scored just 13 goals in their last eight games. But the Rangers could not find the right combination against Bachman, who is replacing the injured Kari Lehtonen.
Bachman is only 5-10 and 175 pounds, which is undersized for a goaltender these days, but he smothered the net. He was rarely forced into any incredible saves, but consistently made the routine ones. When asked afterward if the game was the highlight of his young career, Bachman agreed.
"Overall, I think that's No. 1 right now," the 24-year-old said. "It was a lot of fun."
Lundqvist had a scare midway through the second period when a blast from Dallas' Sheldon Souray caught him in a tender spot by the left shoulder. It sent the goalie sprawling, but after trainer Jim Ramsay came out to check on him he stayed in the game.
"I got lucky," Lundqvist said. "At first I thought it was the collarbone. It felt like the whole shoulder was a couple feet behind me."
The defensive stalemate puzzled Tortorella, who credited Dallas' defense and blamed some missed opportunities. Center Brad Richards, facing his former team for the first time, said the Rangers didn't get in close enough to capitalize on rebounds.
"We had pressure, we had chances," winger Ryan Callahan said. "It's just a matter of doing that consistently and I don't think we did that tonight."
Mike Rupp (left knee surgery) has been cleared for contact and soon could return to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 24. But injured defensemen Mike Sauer and Marc Staal (concussions) remain out indefinitely. . . . Winger Sean Avery was a healthy scratch for the second straight game.