The Rangers collapsed after falling behind in their season-opening loss to the Capitals in Washington on Wednesday, but when faced with the same two-goal deficit the following night against the Stars at home, the response was certainly there.
It was enough to force overtime, but a goal from the Stars’ Miro Heiskanen at 1:38 of the extra period handed the Rangers a 3-2 loss Thursday night at Madison Square Garden and an 0-1-1 start to the season.
On a night when the late Rangers great Rod Gilbert was honored, with the whole Gilbert family introduced in an emotional pregame presentation that included his wife, Judy, taking part in the ceremonial puck drop, the Blueshirts brought a lot more heart to the ice compared to Tuesday night.
The Rangers gave a portion of their rough-and-tough lineup a rest, though Sammy Blais was unavailable after suffering what the team described as a lower-body injury in the season opener. Julien Gauthier replaced Blais on the third line.
Additionally, Nils Lundkvist made his NHL debut in place of Jarred Tinordi, who had a rough night against the Capitals.
The Rangers could only muster four shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes, often slowing up on the rush and letting the Stars push them to the perimeter of the zone.
And with 35 seconds left in the first period, a defensive breakdown from Lundkvist and Patrik Nemeth led to Jacob Peterson putting Dallas on the board first.
Head coach Gerard Gallant said after Wednesday’s game that he told the Rangers they had to play the same way every shift, and that began to come through in the middle frame Thursday.
Following a handful of Grade-A chances in the second from the Rangers, which included a Kaapo Kakko one-timer off the post and Stars netminder Braden Holtby’s robbery of Ryan Strome on the doorstep, Dallas struck again.
After a scrum in which Ryan Reaves, Jacob Trouba and the Stars’ Jamie Benn received roughing penalties to give Dallas a power play, Radek Faksa made it a 2-0 game.
Unlike in the season opener, however, the Rangers had an answer for the Stars. Turning up the forecheck and making a point to put pucks on net, the Rangers took charge of the pace of play.
Adam Fox fired the puck from the top of the zone through traffic to put the Rangers on the board, before Chris Kreider tipped in a shot from K’Andre Miller to knot the score 2-2.
Just under halfway through the third, Holtby headed to the locker room and Anton Khudobin took over in net for the Stars.