Game 30: Pavelec brilliant to help Rangers steal a undeserved point in 2-1 shootout loss to Stars


Ondrej Pavelec was sensational making 44 saves to steal the Rangers a undeserved point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Stars. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy

The Rangers were abysmal tonight. I didn’t see the entirety due to catching up with a close buddy but didn’t need to. I could tell very early that they didn’t have it against a Stars team that skated circles around them to earn a 2-1 shootout win at MSG.

Ondrej Pavelec is the only reason it was competitive. Honestly, it was so uncompetitive the first two periods that it was appalling. Granted. It was their third game in four nights. They have had a pretty easy schedule to this point. But there’s no excuse for getting outshot by a combined 33-10 the first 40 minutes.

They owe Pavelec a steak dinner with all the trimmings for a stolen point. They’ll certainly take it. The backup had his second straight strong start. A week after making 41 saves in a 4-3 regulation win over the Pens, the former Winnipeg goalie was brilliant in making 44 saves. That’s a combined 85 stops in his last two starts while facing 89 shots. Full credit to the veteran for getting it together. He will need to be good as the schedule continues to increase. I’ll take my crow darkened.

There really isn’t much to say about this one. The Stars were ready. The Rangers weren’t. They spent way too many shifts in their own zone. Part of that was Dallas who used their speed to forecheck vigorously. Pavelec must’ve had half a dozen unreal saves on top sniper Tyler Seguin. He was stopping everything including breakaways and a amazing three save sequence with great kick outs on two rebounds. It reminded of Henrik Lundqvist and what he does nightly.

If there’s a concern, it’s this team’s propensity for slow starts. Sooner or later, it’s gonna catch up. They’re lucky to get a point out of such a awful effort. They can thank Pavelec. He made every critical stop to keep Dallas at one. That allowed the Rangers to play one good period and get a big tying goal from Rick Nash with 3:41 left in regulation.

The Stars only tally came from Julius Honka in the second period. A nice finish from Esa Lindell and captain Jamie Benn which came off some sloppy defensive play.

Dallas didn’t take advantage of their chances. The game should’ve been 6 or 7-0. Pavelec stood on his head. He got a few standing ovations from the knowledgeable fans who normally reserve it for Lundqvist. They knew how bad the team was in front of him. It was a sensational effort that should build even more confidence.

With his team doing nothing, Alain Vigneault adjusted his lines and D pairs for the third. Sensing they needed a spark, he moved Pavel Buchnevich off the top line and onto the Kevin Hayes line with Nash. The move paid off with Nash getting his eighth from Brady Skjei and Buchnevich.

Mats Zuccarello was moved onto the first line with David Desharnais and the suddenly slumping Chris Kreider. He’s without a goal in five straight and hasn’t been as noticeable. He’s stuck on 99 career goals. He needs to get number 100 and snap out of it. With games at Ottawa Wednesday and back home vs the sizzling Kings Friday, he’ll have chances to get it going. That’s the frustrating thing about Kreider who can dominate games but still struggles with consistency.

The Rangers had enough to tie the game by outshooting the Stars 9-8 in the third. They also had six more shots on Kari Lehtonen in a entertaining three on three overtime. Too bad they didn’t win it there.

Pavelec deserved better. But lost to Lehtonen in the shootout. Zuccarello outwaited Lehtonen to beat him high glove in around 1 but Alex Radulov recovered from falling down to then go forehand deke opening up Pavelec’s five-hole. Following a Desharnais backhand that Lehtonen gloved, Pavelec got a piece of a high Seguin shot to send it to Round 3. In it, Kevin Shattenkirk’s backhand try was denied allowing the Stars to win it on Jason Spezza’s beauty upstairs.

Theres no more insight. They should burn the tape or whatever they use these days. This was awful. Take the point because they’re all important. They are now ahead of the Pens into a wildcard due to Pittsburgh losing 2-1 in regulation. So, there’s that.

Give Pavelec all three stars for what he did. The end.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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