DALLAS - Tied at 1 with the Stars at the start of the third period Thursday night -- mostly because Henrik Lundqvist stopped a career-high 23 shots in the first period -- the Rangers finally struck gold in a 3-2 win over Dallas.
For a team that had scored three goals in three games, two was a bounty, no matter how they went in, or how long it took.
In this case, it took 37 seconds.
Chris Kreider ripped a shot top shelf from just above the right circle past Kari Lehtonen's stick at 1:18 of the third and defenseman John Moore's blast skipped off the goaltender's shoulder at 1:55 for a 3-1 lead the Rangers never relinquished.
Alex Chiasson trimmed the lead to 3-2 when he finished a two-on-one with Cody Eakin at 8:27. The Rangers had an opportunity to restore the two-goal cushion with 11:21 left when Rick Nash was awarded a penalty shot. But Lehtonen used his left pad to deny a backhanded tuck-in attempt. "I was hoping he'd think I'd try the same move I scored on," Nash said.
Lundqvist, who made 41 saves and was the game's No. 1 star, wasn't done. With 2:57 left Jamie Benn danced around Anton Stralman and got to the slot, where Lundqvist had to absorb his wrister.
With the victory over the Stars, who had won six of seven, the Rangers (11-11) climbed back to .500. They visit Nashville on Saturday in the second game of this five-game road trip.
Lundqvist also assisted on the Rangers' lone goal in the first 20 minutes.
"We didn't have our legs in the first," said Brad Richards
At the other end of the rink, Lehtonen faced just six shots, but one was from Nash, in his second game back after missing 17 with post-concussion symptoms. Lundqvist's long pass found Ryan Callahan, who sent Nash in alone, and the winger deked Lehtonen and went forehand for his first goal of the season at 6:27.
In the first part of the second period, the Rangers steadied, but Derick Brassard was whistled for hooking at 7:05, giving the Stars a third power play. Stephane Robidas' shot hit Ryan McDonagh's skate in front and went past Lundqvist at 8:46 to square the score at 1.
Brassard, desperate for a goal, batted in a puck during a scrum with 6:33 left in the second. It was ruled a goal on ice, but after a review, it was waved off. Each team had 13 shots in the period.
The Rangers went to the box twice more, Marc Staal for slashing and Derek Stepan for tripping, and Lehtonen came up big when he was needed, stopping a slick deflection by Stepan and later Brad Richards' point-blank wrister on a snappy pass from Nash with 39.6 seconds left.
Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi earned assists on Kreider's goal; Brassard and Carl Hagelin assisted on Moore's goal.
"What a weird sport," said Kreider, who was denied on a penalty shot and a breakaway against Rask. "Grade A chances in tight, and you're shooting through a screen and it kinda tips off a guy's stick and ends up going in. I'm not complaining though. "