What to think after Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the Dallas Stars at The Garden?
Demoralization, after the team’s performance in the first two periods, which saw them trailing 7-3 after 40 minutes? Anger, at the fans who booed Henrik Lundqvist at the end of the 2nd period? Encouragement, at the high-flying offense, which scored six goals? Or head-shaking bewilderment, at the Blueshirts’ defense, which clearly needs a kick in the pants?
One thing is true: The Rangers have now lost three straight games, their longest losing streak of the season.
The Stars scored three goals in a five-minute span of the 2nd period to take a 7-3 lead, and held off a furious 3rd period rally by the Rangers to win 7-6. Patrick Sharp scored twice to lead the Stars. Patrick Eaves and Jamie Benn each added a goal and two assists.
Derek Stepan and Mika Zibanejad each scored two goals; it was Zibanejad’s first game since suffering a broken leg November 20th.
Stepan gave the Rangers a quick 1-0 lead just 27 seconds into the game, before many Rangers fans had sat down, lifting a wraparound over Dallas goalie Antti Niemi. But Eaves [a power play goal], Sharp, and Benn each scored to make it 3-1 Dallas after one period.
In the 2nd, the slide continued as Antoine Roussel made it 4-1 at 4:32, but Zibanejad’s goal at 9:56 cut the lead to 4-2, and Pavel Buchnevich‘s tally at 12:06 made it a one-goal deficit, 4-3.
Then the problems of the New York defense continued, as the Stars scored three times before the end of the period to make it 7-3, on goals from Sharp, Adam Cracknell, and Cody Eakin.
The New York played with urgency at the start of the 3rd period. Goals by Chris Kreider [a power play goal at 3:11 of the 3rd], Stepan [at 5:31], and Zibanejad [at 7:26] made it 7-6 but the Blueshirts could not tie the game.
Lundqvist allowed seven goals on 27 shots. Markus Hellberg, in uniform with Antti Raanta out 7-10 days, started the 3rd period for the Rangers and stopped all four shots he faced.
The Rangers [now 28-16-1, 57 pts] play the Maple Leafs in Toronto Thursday night. The Blueshirts lost to Toronto last Friday night, at The Garden, 4-2.