NEW YORK (AP) — The Dallas Stars put themselves in position for a big win on Monday night. It just took them a while to finish off the New York Rangers, thanks to Ondrej Pavelec.
Jason Spezza scored in the shootout, and the Stars snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers.
“It would have been a shame to not get two points in this game the way we played,” Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We are starting to really play strong 5-on-5 hockey right now. We are getting a lot of scoring chances and we are not giving up a lot which is a really good sign.”
Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves for Dallas in the opener of its four-game East Coast road trip against the Metropolitan Division. It was Lehtonen’s 299th career NHL victory.
Dallas outshot New York 45-25, but Pavelec kept the Rangers in the game with an outstanding performance in goal.
“I don’t think anyone in our dressing room doesn’t know that other than Pavelec, we didn’t play real well tonight.” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “There are two positives, Pavs played unreal and because of his performance we were able to get a point. Other than that, we weren’t good.”
The Stars had a 1-0 lead before Rick Nash tied it for the Rangers when he tipped in Brady Skjei’s wrist shot with 3:41 left in regulation. Nash made contact with Lehtonen but the goalie was well outside the blue paint. Hitchcock challenged the play, but the referees stayed with the original call.
“I thought the mental toughness was after the (Nash) goal,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t know why that goal was allowed but I thought our next shift was outstanding. That to me is the mental toughness that we are starting to show. We had the Rangers in for 35 seconds in their own zone and that’s a good sign.”
Julius Honka put Dallas in front when he drove a slap shot past Pavelec at 6:30 of the second period for his first of the season. The 2014 first-round pick rejoined the lineup after sitting for the previous three games.
“If we play like that, we can beat any team in this league,” Honka said. “We just have to keep going and keep up the good work.”
New York generated very little offensive pressure for the first two periods. J.T. Miller had a breakaway opportunity at 8:46 of the second, but came up empty.
“I think everyone in here knows that was embarrassing for two periods,” Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello said. “They smacked us around and we didn’t win one battle, we didn’t win a puck battle in front of the net. We weren’t first on the pucks. It’s not acceptable for the team that we are supposed to be. I think everyone in here knows that.”
NOTES: Rangers C Mika Zibanejad missed his sixth consecutive game due to a concussion. Zibanejad has been skating on his own and participated in New York’s morning skate, but has not been cleared for contact. … New York D Marc Staal skated in his 719th game, tying Andy Bathgate for 11th place on the franchise’s career games list. … Stars F Jason Dickinson, who was recalled from the minors over the weekend, played on Dallas’ fourth line. … Dallas F Antoine Roussel was held out after suffering an upper-body injury against the Golden Knights on Saturday.
Rangers: Visit the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
Stars: Visit the New York Islanders on Wednesday.