Sharp scores twice, Stars hold on for 7-6 win over Rangers
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By VIN A. CHERWOO
NEW YORK (AP) The Dallas Stars gave up an early goal for the third straight game. However, this time they quickly bounced back, took two big leads and held on for a win.
Patrick Sharp scored twice, Jamie Benn and Patrick Eaves had a goal and two assists each and the Stars got a wild 7-6 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Dallas fell behind just 27 seconds in as Derek Stepan scored on the Rangers' first shot. On Monday, the Stars gave up a goal 19 seconds into a 4-1 loss at Buffalo, and Minnesota scored 1:19 into a 5-4 win at Dallas on Saturday night.
In this one, the Stars rallied and led 4-1 and 7-3 before pulling out their third win in nine games (3-5-1).
"It's nice to put some pucks in the net," Sharp said. "It's the third game in a row we've given up a quick one. Credit the power play for getting it right back and then we were able to score quickly after. It's frustrating that we need to score seven goals to win the game, but right now we'll take a win whatever way we can."
Cody Eakin had a goal and an assist, Antoine Roussel and Adam Cracknell also scored and the Stars finished with their highest scoring total of the season.
"They had a couple good pushes," Benn said. "But we did what we had to do. We hunkered down to the end and found a way to get two points."
Stepan had two goals and an assist, Mika Zibanejad also scored twice and Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and two assists for the Rangers, who lost a season-high third straight. Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist and Mats Zuccarello had three assists.
Antti Niemi made 22 saves on 28 shots for Dallas before being replaced in the third period by Kari Lehtonen, who finished with 12 saves.
Trailing 7-3, the Rangers were booed leaving the ice after the second period. New York then scored three times in a 4:15 span early in the third to pull within one.
Kreider tipped in a pass by Stepan on a power play for his 18th at 3:11, Stepan knocked in a rebound at 5:31 for his 12th and Zibanejad pulled the Rangers within one at 7:26. That prompted Stars coach Lindy Ruff to send in Lehtonen.
"That was more of a stall tactic, to get the goalie in and slow the game down," Ruff said. "I didn't want to burn my timeout. And (Lehtonen) has been good coming off the bench. I just felt it was something to do to try to slow things down."
It worked. The Rangers couldn't get anything past Lehtonen despite outshooting the Stars 25-4 in the period.
New York's Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven goals at Madison Square Garden for the first time in his career. He stopped 20 shots before being replaced to start the third by Magnus Hellberg, who was called up from Hartford of the AHL with Antti Raanta injured. Hellberg stopped four shots.
Lundqvist has allowed at least four goals in five of his last six games, including 12 goals on 49 shots over the last two.
"I feel like it's embarrassing, frustrating, and disappointing, at the same time," he said. "I need to find another level; it's not good enough."
Trailing 4-1 early in the second period, the Rangers scored twice in a 2:10 span. Zibanejad, back after missing 25 games with a broken fibula, tipped a shot to pull the Rangers within two midway through the period. Buchnevich then put a wrist shot past Niemi.
However, Sharp got his fourth of the season on a wraparound 48 seconds later. Cracknell made it 6-3 with 4:07 left in the second, and Eakin knocked in a rebound for his first of the season less than two minutes after that.
"There's no doubt that we need to do a better job in front of our net," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our offensive game is pretty good at this time, but defensively obviously there are too many breakdowns."
Eaves, Sharp and Benn scored late in the first period to make it 3-1, and Roussel then made it 4-1 at 4:32 of the second.
NOTES: Faksa had at least a point for the fourth straight game, giving him a goal and four assists in that stretch. ... The Stars improved to 4-13-5 when giving up the first goal of the game and 13-0-3 when leading after two periods. ... Tyler Seguin had an assist, giving him six goals and six assists in his last 11 games. ... Buchnevich returned to the Rangers last week after missing nearly two months due to a back injury and has at least a point in seven straight games with five goals and six assists.
Stars: At the New York Islanders on Thursday night to complete a three-game trip.
Rangers: At Toronto on Thursday night.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP
Updated January 17, 2017