|DAL||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
|NYR||1||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
Oct. 20, 2008
• PHOTO GALLERY
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
In a very evenly played match Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers dropped a tough 2-1 decision to the Dallas Stars.
The first-place Rangers are now 6-2-1 on the season, and their 13 points are still tops in the National Hockey League. Six of the Rangers’ nine games this season have now been decided by one goal. Dallas improved to 2-3-1 with the win.
Sean Avery’s return to The Garden for the first time since leaving the Rangers as a free agent over the summer was largely uneventful. He was held off of the scoresheet and also did not record any penalty minutes, though he did send some verbal abuse towards goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, both in the pre-game warm-ups and during the game itself.
“(Sean) came here to play hockey. He came on a business trip, basically, and played hockey tonight,” said Rangers head coach Tom Renney. “And their team won the hockey game so I think that translates into a successful contribution on his part.”
Dallas grabbed its first lead of the night when Mike Modano beat Lundqvist with a wicked wrist shot from the left-wing circle at 8:03 of the third period for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Lundqvist had made a solid chest save just a moment earlier, but the Stars kept the pressure on, and Modano gave them a 2-1 lead with his third goal of the season.
“You hold the Dallas Stars to two goals, you like those odds,” said alternate captain Scott Gomez. “But they’re a great team, and they’re well coached. They clamped down on us and we just couldn’t penetrate them.”
Earlier in the period, with the score still tied, Brandon Dubinsky had a great scoring chance after making a neat move around the Dallas defense. After weaving his way in close to the goal, Dubinsky flicked a backhander on net that Stars goalie Marty Turco made a terrific save on
Turco finished the night with 28 saves, while Lundqvist had 25 for the Rangers, who have now lost two straight games and three of their last four.
“We took care of their better guys pretty good tonight,” noted Lundqvist. “But they did the same to us. They’re a good team and played real solid.”
Not surprisingly, Dallas head coach Dave Tippett had Avery in his starting lineup; and at the end of that first shift Avery jawed with Dubinsky behind the Rangers net after Dubinsky stepped between Avery and Lundqvist. As he skated off the ice, Avery glared at the Rangers bench and had a few more words for his former teammates before reaching the Dallas bench.
The best part of that opening shift for the Rangers was that Dallas forward Loui Eriksson was whistled for a tripping penalty just 25 seconds into the game, giving the Rangers an early power play opportunity.
It didn’t take the Rangers long to take advantage of Erikkson’s mistake, as Markus Naslund scored his second goal of the season -- and first since opening night in Prague against the Tampa Bay Lightning -- at the 58-second mark of the opening period. Perfectly positioned to the side of Turco’s net, Naslund collected the rebound of Michal Rozsival’s shot, which had missed the cage and caromed off the back wall, and hammered it into the back of the net to give the Rangers a very early 1-0 lead.
“We wanted a quick start, and I think we got it,” said captain Chris Drury. “But it wasn’t enough.”
Gomez, who earned an assist on Naslund’s goal, set up excellent scoring chances for both of his linemates -- Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes -- over the next few minutes, but neither was able to dent Turco, who also denied Drury on a partial break 5:41 into the first.
The Rangers carried their 1-0 lead into the second period, but they exited the ice after 40 minutes with the score tied 1-1. Handed their first power play of the night when Callahan was called for a tripping penalty at 4:13 of the second, the Stars, like the Rangers in the first, cashed in.
Stars captain Brendan Morrow scored the tying goal, his second of the season, after falling to the ice while battling for position with Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in front of the net. Rookie winger Fabian Brunnstrom fired a right-wing shot on net that Lundqvist batted away, but Morrow swatted the puck over the goal line while lying on the ice at 5:28 to tie the game 1-1.
“I thought it was going to be a very tight game, and thought it was going to be close,” said Renney. “I thought we were going to win it, and I knew it was going to be a mistake that won the hockey game.”
Both teams had limited opportunities for the rest of the tight-checking middle stanza. However when tested, both Lundqvist and Turco were very sharp. Play tightened up even more in the third period as both teams had very limited opportunities to score, but Modano was able to sneak one past Lundqvist, and Dallas shut down the Rangers the rest of the way.
“There weren’t a lot of good chances for either team because I think both teams played it close to the vest,” said Drury. “Obviously they got a late one, and that was it.”
As for Avery, he had a relatively quiet night, though he was on the receiving end of a thunderous hit by Paul Mara in front of the Rangers bench early in the third period. And Avery missed a potentially big hit on Dmitri Kalinin minutes later, ramming into the boards instead of the Rangers defenseman, much to the joy of the MSG crowd.
Monday night’s match closed out a stretch of seven games in 11 nights for the Rangers, who will not play again until Friday night in Columbus against the Blue Jackets.
“It would have been nice to get the two points tonight before the couple days off,” said Gomez. “We have had a long stretch here, so we will take our rest and work hard in practice and continue this good thing we have going here.”
|PPG - Markus Naslund (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Michal Rozsival (3), Scott Gomez (6)|
1 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Brenden Morrow (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Fabian Brunnstrom (1), Brad Richards (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Mike Modano (3) Wrist shot - ASST: B.J. Crombeen (3), James Neal (2)|
2 - 1 DAL
|Loui Eriksson Tripping against Dmitri Kalinin|
|Brandon Dubinsky Elbowing against Mike Modano|
|B.J. Crombeen Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Ryan Callahan Tripping against Trevor Daley|
|Nicklas Grossman Hooking against Markus Naslund|
|Brandon Dubinsky Tripping against Stephane Robidas|
|Michal Rozsival Interference against B.J. Crombeen|
|SA: 29||TOI: 59:58|
|Saves: 28||EV: 27 - 27|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 2|
|SV%: .966||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:24|
|Saves: 25||EV: 20 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 6|
|SV%: .926||SH: 0 - 0|