Looking to snap a three-game winless streak, Lindy Ruff’s Dallas Stars (23-21-8) are in Manhattan for a Sunday afternoon tilt with Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers (30-16-4). Game time is 4:00 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.
This is the second and final meeting between the inter-Conference teams this season, and the lone game in New York.
On Dec. 29 at the American Airlines Center, the Stars ended the Rangers’ eight-game winning streak in a 3-2 regulation decision.
In the previous meeting, Kari Lehtonen (28 saves) outdueled Henrik Lundqvist (24 saves) in a game that saw the teams combine for five goals in the first 21 minutes and zero thereafter. For Dallas, a first-period power play goal by rookie defenseman John Klingberg and an even strength goal by Ales Hemsky helped to forge a 2-2 deadlock at the first intermission. Antoine Roussel put the Stars ahead to stay at the 54-second mark of the second period. Rookie defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka also made what proved to be a critical play, blocking a point blank shot by New York’s Chris Kreider with an otherwise wide open net behind the defenseman.
The Stars have been inconsistent throughout the 2014-15 season to date, and the All-Star break has done nothing to change the tide. Dallas is 2-3-1 since the break and winless (0-2-1) thus far in February. The team enters this game ranked second offensively in the NHL (3.12 goals per game) but leaky team defense and spotty goaltending have team ranked 28th in goals against average (3.23 GAA).
Dallas enters this game coming off a 3-2 regulation road loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
The Stars found themselves in a 3-0 hole before the game was 26 minutes old. A power play goal by Tyler Seguin in the latter stages of the middle frame and a third-period goal by Cody Eakin at even strength brought the Stars back within a goal but they could not find the equalizer against Jhonas Enroth (38 saves). Fellow Swede Anders Lindbäck got a rare start for Dallas, stopping 21 of 24 shots in a losing cause.
Kari Lehtonen will return to the net for the Stars in Sunday’s tilt. With Henrik Lundqvist (neck) on the injured reserve list for the Rangers, the big Finn will be opposed by Cam Talbot. Although Talbot played on Saturday, the only other option right now is 20-year-old MacKenzie Skapski.
The Rangers enter this game coming off a 3-2 regulation road loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
A power play goal by Rick Nash broke a scoreless tie midway through regulation but subsequent goals by defensemen Roman Josi and Shea Weber put the Preds ahead 2-1 by the second intermission. Rangers blueliner Ryan McDonagh re-tied the game at 2-2 just 97 seconds into the third period before former Stars’ center Mike Ribeiro tallied the game-winner for Nashville with 7:14 remaining in the game. Talbot made 20 saves while winning goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 30.
On the Stars injury front, Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) and Patrik Nemeth (severe forearm laceration from a skate cut) remain on injured reserve. For the Rangers, apart from Lundqvist, Jesper Fast (knee) is out while Derek Stepan missed Saturday’s game due to illness but is expected to be available against the Stars.