Coming off an inspiring 3-2 road win in Chicago Wednesday, the Rangers opened up a four-game homestand Friday night with an exciting come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars, one that was secured on Rick Nash's goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
The Rangers never held a lead in the game until Nash roofed a shot from ten-feet out while falling to the ice at 18:02 of the third period, beating Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen for his tenth goal of the season, and third in the past three games. The late-game heroics were similar to those Wednesday in Chicago when Carl Hagelin scored the game-winning goal against the Blackhawks with 5:58 to play in regulation.
Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves to earn the win in goal for the Rangers, who have won two in a row and earned points in four straight games (3-0-1). New York is now 7-2-1 in its last ten games overall, and is unbeaten in regulation over its last four home games (3-0-1). The Rangers will host the Flyers on Sunday when this homestand continues.
Twice over the first two periods the Rangers erased one-goal deficits and thus they and the Stars arrived at the second intermission tied, 2-2.
After Cody Eakin snuck an in-close one-timer under Lundqvist's right arm 4:06 into the game to give Dallas a 1-0 lead, the Rangers answered back seven minutes later on Ryan Callahan's eighth goal of the season--and first since his return January 3rd from a sprained knee. Callahan scored off a pass from Richards as he charged to the net and was in the process of falling to the ice, where he eventually slid to the back boards with his arms raised in the air in celebration.
The Rangers did a lot of good things to set up Callahan's goal. Mats Zuccarello got in on the forecheck and delivered a hard body-check behind the Stars net, and Benoit Pouliot also had a good hit on the shift. Then when the puck came outside the offensive zone, with the Rangers in the midst of a line change, Pouliot patiently waited to get his teammates on side before making a soft pass into the middle for Richards, just off the bench. Richards then stayed with the play after his original shot was blocked, and chipped the puck to Callahan on the right side with the Rangers captain putting it away for the game-tying score at 11:20 of the opening period.
New York outshot Dallas 13-6 in that first period, one that had very little flow to it as both teams iced the puck numerous times and seemed largely out of sync. The second period was similar in play at the start before play picked up as the period wore on.
Dallas' Ryan Garbutt knocked a centering pass from teammate Antoine Roussel out of mid air and then swatted the disc past Lundqvist at 3:34 of the second period to put the Rangers in another one-goal hole. However granted the game's first power play four minutes later, the Rangers took advantage to once again pull even.
Derick Brassard redirected a perfect Zuccarello pass into the cage at 8:22 to tie the score at two apiece. Stationed in the high slot on a set play, Brassard angled his stick to deflect Zuccarello's pass up and over Lehtonen's shoulder for his seventh goal of the season, and first in 11 games.
The Rangers now have five power play goals in their last four games, and 13 in their last 12 matches. However with a chance to snap the 2-2 tie early in the third period the Rangers failed to score when Dallas was caught with too many men on the ice at 1:21--the first part of that power play a 4-on-3 since New York's Hagelin and Dallas' Garbutt were already in the box for coincidental minor penalties.
Despite failing on that early third-period power play the Rangers continued to build momentum that began late in the middle period of play. A long sustained shift in the offensive zone by the Rangers' fourth line began to swing things in the home team's favor. Daniel Carcillo--in his Rangers home-ice debut--delivered another in a series of big hits and Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore kept the Stars on their heels, as well; and when Dallas did finally clear the puck the other way, Michael Del Zotto hammered Roussel in the boards.
Spurred by their physical play the Rangers generated five consecutive shots on goal in the final two minutes of the second period, the best of which was a Ryan McDonagh in-tight chance that was steered aside at the goal line by Lehtonen.
There were some earlier near-misses for New York, as well, with Nash shooting wide on a breakaway 5:55 into the second and Richards ringing a shot off the crossbar at the seven-minute mark of the middle stanza.
Carcillo played a strong game despite limited ice time. The newcomer by way of Los Angeles was credited with a game-high eight hits over 8:38 worth of ice time. As a team the Rangers were credited with 37 hits--16 more than Dallas--with Chris Kreider adding five, and Callahan and Brassard each chipping in with four.