DALLAS---For the third time in four games, the Rangers went beyond regulation tonight. And for the second game in a row, Mats Zuccarello got the game-winner. On Wednesday, it was in overtime against Carolina. Last night, it was the lone goal in the shootout for a 3-2 win, as Henrik Lundqvist stopped all three Stars shots.
The Rangers, with numerous veterans sidelined by injuries, have found scoring hard to come by. In the four games prior to tonight, they had scored six goals, one an empty-netter, but managed to post a 2-1-1 record. That issue surfaced again against the deeper Stars, who were leading the Pacific Division in their best season since 2005-06.
Yet somehow, the Blueshirts (24-15-3) are finding a way to get points, rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.
It took another third period comeback to secure the first point. Breaking an 0-for-13 skid on the power play, Artem Anisimov took a pass from Marc Staal and whipped a shot from the right circle off the far post and past Kari Lehtonen at 8:04 of the third period to tie the game at 2. Lundqvist received an assist as well, his second in two games and third of the season.
Lundqvist then stopped Jamie Benn to open the shootout, brad Richards with a tiny slice of his blocker to deflect the puck off the crossbar, and after Zuccarello deked and beat Lehtonen, turned away Mike Ribiero's backhand.
"It's a great feeling to secure a win for the team," said the Norwegian winger, who certainly can finish. But Henrik saved three shots. He's a big key for us."
With the Rangers trailing 1-0 in the second, Brandon Dubinsky was sent off at the one-minute mark when he slashed Philip Larsen from behind. Jamie Benn fired wide and off the glass from the right circle and the puck caromed around to the right boards. Ruslan Fedotenko gathered it and sped down the right side and unleashed a low shot that Lehtonen couldn’t handle. It was the Rangers league-leading ninth shorthanded goal and the second of Fedotenko’s career.
But Steve Eminger was called for tripping at 8:26, giving the Stars their third consecutive power play and they capitalized. Loui Eriksson was stopped by Lundqvist’s dive at one post, but the puck went behind and came to Mike Ribiero just outside the other. He had Lundqvist scrambling, didn’t miss at 10:20 and Stars regained the lead at 2-1.
Steve Ott elbowed Zuccarello in the head at 18:34 of the second, and tried to bait Anisimov into retaliation, but the Rangers weren’t biting.
In the first period, the Stars had jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 7:55 when the puck was sent harmlessly in and around the net by Krys Barch. Lundqvist wandered behind but couldn’t play it. Brandon Segal grabbed it in the right corner and quickly found Brian Sutherby in front before Lundqvist could fully recover. Just 30 seconds earlier, Weise and Ott dropped the gloves in the same corner and were sent to the box.
Staal almost tied the game at 15:22 when Avery, who was booed whenever he touched the puck by about half the crowd here at American Airlines Center, passed to Chris Drury, whose shot was stopped by Lehtonen and bounced to Staal, who had a half-open net but hit the post. The period ended with the shots at 10 each, but the Stars had more opportunities as the Rangers turned the puck over regularly in the defensive zone.