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Rangers kick off trip on positive note

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- After tough back-to-back home losses at Madison Square Garden earlier in the week, maybe heading out on a five-game road trip was the tonic the New York Rangers needed. The Rangers kicked off that road swing with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Dallas on Thursday, snapping the Stars' three-game winning streak.

The Rangers, who lost 1-0 to Los Angeles on Monday and 2-1 to Boston on Wednesday, got third-period goals from center Chris Kreider and defenseman John Moore 37 seconds apart to break what was a 1-1 game after two periods.

"It (Kreider's goal) deflected off their stick and went in the back of the net," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Sometimes you need a little bit of puck luck. We got some puck luck there. Johnny Moore's goal was a great goal. We hadn't scored 5-on-5 in a while. Hopefully that's the start of something real positive for us."

Kreider beat Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a wrist shot from the high slot that deflected off the stick of Stars defenseman Trevor Daley and into the far side of the net 1:18 into the third period.

At 1:55, Moore beat Lehtonen from the high slot on the opposite side of the ice to make it a two-goal game.

While those two quick goals were a source of pride for Vigneault, Stars coach Lindy Ruff naturally saw them a bit differently.

"We made a couple of mistakes that cost us dearly. We brought the puck back in our own zone," Ruff said.

Dallas got a goal from right winger Alex Chiasson at 8:27 of the third period, his first in 10 games, on a delayed penalty to make it 3-2, but the Stars couldn't find the equalizer.

New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 41 of the 43 shots he faced. One of his bigger saves was on Dallas left winger and captain Jamie Benn with 2:57 remaining in the game, a stop Ruff called Lundqvist's biggest of the evening.

"Unbelievable, you can talk about him every single night," New York left winger Rick Nash said of Lundqvist's latest stellar performance in net. "Again tonight, he was the best player on the ice and he was the difference."

The Rangers tested Lehtonen early, forcing the Finnish netminder, who was starting his 13th consecutive game, to make three saves within eight seconds. However, Lehtonen's biggest stop of the night might have come in the third period when he denied Nash on a penalty shot.

New York went on the power play at 5:51 of the first period, and it took the visitors just 36 seconds to convert, with Nash scoring his first goal of the season after Lehtonen bit on a fake to the right post.

Lundqvist started the sequence with a long pass to New York right winger Ryan Callahan, who was near the Dallas blue line. Callahan then passed to a streaking Nash and the savvy veteran faked to Lehtonen's right before skating around the outstretched goaltender and flipping the puck into the left side of the net to make it 1-0.

Lundqvist stopped all 23 shots he faced in the first period, including one by center Ryan Garbutt with his elbow with 3:38 remaining before the first intermission.

"It felt good to get a period like that, to really work hard," Lundqvist said of the opening period. "Yeah, it was just fun to be in there. There was just so much action. They have some really skilled players, some skilled forwards who can hold onto the puck and wait and wait. It's definitely a challenge."

The Rangers netminder then denied center Vernon Fiddler's backhand shot early in the second period and a wrister by center Tyler Seguin at 3:14. But the Stars tied it when defenseman Stephane Robidas scored from distance at 8:46 of the second period with Dallas on the power play.

Robidas' shot deflected first off the right hand of Girardi and then off the left skate of fellow defenseman Ryan McDonagh for Robidas' third goal of the season. Dallas had been 0 for 26 on the power play at home prior to that goal.

An apparent goal by New York center Derick Brassard at 13:27 of the second period was nullified after officials determined he had swiped at the puck with his left glove to knock it in.

Lehtonen turned back 24 of 27 shots for Dallas, who also got two assists from Cody Eakin.

After Lehtonen left the ice with 1:15 remaining, the Stars had one last chance to force overtime with 18.7 seconds remaining with a faceoff in the New York end after the Rangers iced the puck. Fiddler won the faceoff, but Dallas was unable to force overtime.

"It's tough for us, especially the way we let them come back in the game," Robidas said. "We gave them opportunities. We gave away the first goal. After that we gave them a penalty shot. We had a good start but then after that we kind of let them off the hook. It was a 1-1 game going into the third period. We've got to find a way to get those points. We didn't, so it's disappointing."

NOTES: The Rangers scratched D Justin Falk and C J.T. Miller. ... The Stars scratched D Kevin Connauton, LW Lane MacDermid and D Aaron Rome. ... Stars LW Ray Whitney missed a fourth consecutive game due to a groin injury. ... New York C Brad Richards, who played in Dallas between 2008 and 2011 before signing with New York as a free agent in July 2011, made his first appearance at American Airlines Center as a Ranger. ... Stars C Dustin Jeffrey, who was claimed off waivers on Nov. 17, made his Dallas debut. Jeffrey appeared in 100 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins over the past six seasons. ... D Michael Del Zotto returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the Rangers' previous three games. Del Zotto was paired with John Moore. ... Dallas had a season-high 23 shots in the first period. ... The announced attendance was 15,127.
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