The Dallas Stars were coming off of a booming 6-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on December 13th. The game marked the first of a five-game home stand for the Stars at the American Airlines Center. Thursday, December 15th was another test, as Dallas squared off against the New York Rangers. The game was close, tied 0-0 until midway through the third. However, faulty special teams were again apparent and the Rangers gained the lead on a short-handed goal.
Stars lose to the Rangers, 2-0. They are now 1-8-3 following a win this season and 12-14-6 on the season.
— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) December 16, 2016
Stars Power-Play Nowhere to be Found
The Stars power play, which has been lackluster at best this year, went 0-for-5 against the New York Rangers. In a game that close, power plays should have been beneficial. They were beneficial, just for the wrong side. About midway through the third period, Rangers’ forward Jesper Fast got called for interference against Stars’ Jason Spezza.
On the ensuing Dallas man advantage, Rangers power forward Rick Nash (who missed the past four games with a groin injury), broke free and fired home a wrist shot giving the Blueshirts the lead off the shorthanded marker. The game stayed at 1-0 until the final minutes when Mats Zuccarello extended the Rangers lead to 2-0 on an empty-net goal. Final score: Rangers 2, Stars 0. Shutout at home.
“I think our power play had six point-blank opportunities to put it in the back of the net. From Devin Shore to Jamie Benn to John Klingberg to Tyler Seguin to you name it,” Head Coach Lindy Ruff told Ruffedlines.com. “The power play moved it around and snapped it around. The entries were real good but we made that one big mistake that hurt us. There was so much good in the game, it’s hard to spend time on that one play when there are ten other plays that could have made a difference in the game.”
No Answer for Henrik Lundqvist
The Stars went into the Rangers’ game on Tuesday with a chip on their shoulder. They had just won a big game and were about to go up against the 4th ranked team in the National Hockey League. Henrik Lundqvist started his first game in a week after Antti Raanta stole the spotlight for the past four games. The situation was a good one for the Stars. Dallas was able to contain the rather explosive New York offense, but in return, could not capitalize.
Eakin takes Lundqvist out of the game pic.twitter.com/7dDIpK3QfC
— steph (@myregularface) December 16, 2016
Lundqvist, who was knocked out of the game late in the first by a wild hit by Cody Eakin, was replaced by Raanta, but then returned. On his return, Lundqvist played lights out (with a little bit of help from the posts) and the Stars could not crack him. The Stars would have matched their season high win streak of two games had they held on against the Rangers and won. But with the loss, they fell to 12-14-6 on the season and remained in the 24th spot in the NHL.
The Stars Were Not Awful
The game was close, and even though the final score was not what the Stars wanted, there were still bright spots in their game. First off, goaltender Antti Niemi looked excellent, keeping Dallas in the game all the way until the botched power play leading to the shorthanded goal. Niemi made 28 saves on 29 shots against New York. So far, in two games of the home stand, Niemi has stopped 62 of 65 shots, going 1-1 (a win against Anaheim, and the loss to NYR). When playing, Niemi has kept Dallas in games.
Antti Niemi has stopped 62 of 65 so far on the homestand. He was 28 of 29 tonight. Most other nights he's the runaway first star of the game
— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) December 16, 2016
Another bright spot was the Dallas penalty killing team. In Thursday’s game, they killed off all three of the Rangers power plays, including a 5-on-3. On Tuesday against the Ducks, they were impressive as well, yielding only one power-play goal on five total attempts.
“I thought we killed off a good penalty to start there. We’ve been really working on our penalty and want to get up in the League standings. Other than that, I think we played a pretty good game,” said Jordie Benn regarding Thursday night’s penalty killing team, according to ruffedlines.com