Stepan Scores 2 as Rangers Rout Stars, 6-2

Derek Stepan scored twice, Jayson Megna scored his first goal as a Blueshirt, and the team added its first shorthanded goal of the season, as the Rangers beat the Dallas Stars, 6-2, Tuesday night at the Garden.

The six goals matched the team’s high for the season, set November 12th in a win over St. Louis.

Stepan got the offense going early, with a goal just 1:56 into the 1st period to make it 1-0. It was his first goal since returning from injury. John Klingberg tied the game 1-1 at 13:50, but Keith Yandle broke the tie 18 seconds later, scoring at 14:08 with a spinning move from just inside the blue line to make it 2-1. The puck appeared to deflect in off Jyrki Jokipakka.

Derick Brassard got the only goal of the 2nd period, at 17:23, to make it 3-1 New York. His shot was stopped by Niemi, but the puck eventually deflected off Jason Demers and then off Niemi’s skate for the goal.

At 4:55 of the 3rd period, Stepan scored the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season to make it 4-1. Rick Nash forced a turnover in the Rangers’ end, and got the puck to Stepan streaking up the ice. Stepan’s initial shot was stopped but he got his own rebound and scored.

Viktor Stalberg then scored at 7:50 to make it 5-1, picking up a loose puck just outside the crease and putting the puck underneath Niemi.

Later in the 3rd, with the score 5-2, Megna took a great pass from Nash and scored his first goal as a Ranger, at 13:38, to make it 6-2.

Nash played a superb, aggressive game and finished with three assists, and Kevin Klein logged two assists. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his 17th win of the season.

The Rangers [now 22-14-4, 48 pts] try to make it two wins in a row for the first time since mid-November when they host the Capitals Saturday afternoon at The Garden.

Panthers Blank Rangers, 3-0

In their first game of the 2016 calendar year, the Rangers outshot Florida Saturday night, 40-20, won the face-off battle, 34-17, and out-hit the Panthers, 38-21. But Florida won where it counted: on the scoreboard. Roberto Luongo shut out the Rangers, 3-0, as the Panthers won their 8th straight game, a franchise record.

The Rangers’ defense managed to keep Florida’s top-scoring line of Jaromir Jagr, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov off the scoresheet but still couldn’t find a way to win.

The Panthers got on the scoreboard first, in the final minute of the 1st period. Logan Shaw, with Oscar Lindberg essentially draped all over him, took a pass from Corban Knight and scored at 19:35 to make it 1-0.

Florida extended its lead early in the 2nd period. After some nice passing, Alex Petrovic‘s slapshot was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist but the puck bounced off Vincent Trocheck‘s leg and into the goal at 4:41, to make it 2-0.

Later in the 2nd period, the Panthers got a power play goal on Brandon Pirri‘s one-timer past Lundqvist at 11:18 that made it 3-0.

Luongo made 40 saves in the win, making his best saves of the night in the final period. It was his 71st career shutout.

The Rangers [now 21-14-4, 46 pts] host Dallas Tuesday night at The Garden.