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Rangers' winning streak ends at eight in Dallas

Dallas Stars forwards Ales Hemsky, back left, and

Dallas Stars forwards Ales Hemsky, back left, and Erik Cole, front left, celebrate Hemsky's centering pass ricocheting off of New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) and past goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) for a goal during the first period of an NHL game, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Dallas. Photo Credit: AP / Brandon Wade

DALLAS - The Rangers' winning streak ended at eight games on Monday night, washed away in a muddy, frantic and chaotic 3-2 loss to the Stars.

In a game that was devoid of any consistent defense and filled with poor passes and firewagon hockey -- totally uncharacteristic of the Rangers in their string of victories -- goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Kari Lehtonen pitched shutouts after the first minute of the second period.

The Stars (16-14-5) scored what proved to be the winning goal 54 seconds into the second. Ryan Garbutt's wide shot caromed off the backboard to the right of the net, where Antoine Roussel had an open backhander for the goal that made it 3-2.

"He [Garbutt] kind of threw it across and Hank made a good save with his stick," Dan Girardi said. "And it hit the boards and came right back out front. It was kind of a bit unlucky there."

The Rangers (19-11-4) had won four straight on the road.

"Usually we like to be strong in our own end and limit their chances and create ours," Ryan McDonagh said. "But we got into a little bit of a run-and- gun."

Said Marc Staal, "Their forecheck can do that to you. Their D were coming down the wall hard. It disrupted the way we kind of like to come out of our zone. We weren't able to get out clean, and when we can't do that, we're not very effective through the neutral zone. And it kind of snowballs."

At 4:12 of the second period, Lundqvist stopped a breakaway by Colton Sceviour, and at the other end, Girardi's slapper from the right point was deflected and slid just past the far post. A minute later, Chris Kreider poked the puck toward the goal line, but Jyrki Jokipakka reached around Lehtonen to keep it out.

Said Staal, "We didn't deflate [after the third goal], kept coming at them. [Kevin] Klein hits the post, Kreider undresses a d-man and another guy reaches around their goalie to make a save."

With Tanner Glass in the box for interference at 9:22, Rick Nash missed wide on a shorthanded breakaway. With a little more than seven minutes left, Lehtonen was saved by a post. And with six seconds left in the period, Derek Stepan slid a puck behind Lehtonen but completely through the crease.

The Rangers had 40 seconds left on a power play to start the third period, but Lehtonen stopped Dan Boyle from the point. On the Rangers' 27th shot, Lehtonen robbed Boyle at the goal line with a little more than eight minutes to play.

Said Lundqvist, "We need to use this as motivation for the next game [Wednesday against the Panthers], our last game of the year, and try to end it on a high note. I did think we played better as the game moved on. With some luck we would have tied it up, but . . . ''

Lundqvist was pulled with 1:28 left and Mats Zuccarello blocked a long shot that was headed for the empty net.

The teams traded power-play goals in the first period. J.T. Miller was sprung for a down-the-middle breakaway by Zuccarello and his wrister beat Lehtonen at 5:57. It was his fifth goal in 11 games since his recall from Hartford. But with Glass off for tripping, John Klingberg had plenty of time to wrist a low shot through a screen past Lundqvist's stick at 9:02.

Ales Hemsky's harmless-looking backhand flip from behind the net was tipped in by Staal's stick between Lundqvist and the post, making it 2-1 at 15:46. But exactly a minute later, Staal's point shot was deflected in front by a falling Kevin Hayes for a 2-2 tie.

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