Monday, September 12, 2011

Dallas vs. New York: Day 2 at the 2011 NHL Prospects Tournament


The New York Rangers and the Dallas Stars knew heading into this evening’s clash that the winner would be on the fast track to Wednesday’s championship tilt in the 2011 NHL Prospects Tournament. Each team certainly wanted to feed off the strong start both squads had in their opening games yesterday. The Stars jumped on Carolina early and often in an easy 8-2 win, while the Rangers were fueled by strong special teams in a 5-2 victory over St. Louis.

The Rangers got off to an incredible start, setting the tempo at blazing fast with their top line of Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and Christian Thomas attacking the Dallas zone. Miller scored just 21 seconds into the contest, beating a sprawling Jack Campbell. Campbell would be redeemed on a well-positioned stop on New York’s Ryan Bourque, who was on a shorthanded rush. But a snipe by Shane McColgan beat Campbell stick-side on his left on a 3-on-1 rush with 6:08 left in the opening period, doubling the lead at 2-0. Scott Oke would get Dallas on the board with 3:35 to go, beating the Rangers’ Scott Stajcer in front of the net. Bourque would restore the two goal lead with 1 minute to play, closing out the first frame with a 3-1 lead for the Blueshirts.

Dallas kept hanging around in the second, creating several odd man rushes, but often shooting themselves in the foot with less-than-crisp passing. Even when on the penalty kill, the Stars still hustled to force some quality shorthanded chances, led by Scott Glennie. Brenden Dillon quickly pushed the puck into the New York with ease and grace from the Dallas blueline. The Stars even ricocheted a shot off Stajcer’s mask, but the Rangers’’ netminder seemed unfazed as he was able to stop the ensuing rebound as if nothing had happened. The facial carnage extended to the Dallas side as well, as Dillon took a deflected pass off his teeth later in the period, which left him grimacing in pain and saying a few choice words for his teammates and all of us in the scorer’s box (though he didn’t miss a shift).

A scary moment late in the second: The Stars’ Hubert Labrie slammed an unidentified Ranger near the New York bench (in what could’ve easily been called a hit from behind). McColgan took immediate exception by dropping the gloves with Labrie. But McColgan paid the price by getting whistled for an instigator penalty and the 10-minute misconduct that goes along with it (Labrie was issued only 5 for fighting). The Rangers did wound up killing the minor penalty, but Dallas notched an even-strength goal from Matt Fraser with 17.6 seconds remaining the second period, cutting the New York lead to 3-2.

Despite allowing the late goal to Fraser, the Rangers came out in the third with a full head of steam, and didn’t let off the gas pedal for the entire frame. Jason Wilson beat Campbell gliding across the crease 1:48 in, and Andrew Yogan slid a big juicy rebound past Campbell not quite 5 minutes later. New York peppered Campbell with pucks, getting off 14 shots in the third before Dallas could register one (which the Stars didn’t do until over 11 minutes were gone in the final frame). The Stars kept working, with Campbell stacking the pads over his head (Dominik Hasek-style) for a great save right after Wilson’s goal. The hulking Jamie Oleksiak showed his range of penalty killing acumen by maneuvering backwards quickly in transition, directing teammates to cover oncoming Blueshirts in the Dallas zone, and digging along the boards to clear the puck from the zone. But Bourque’s second goal of the game – a power play tally with just under 11 minutes to play – left little doubt to the result here.

FINAL SCORE: New York 6, Dallas 2

Next door at Huntington, Kris Foucault’s second goal of the game with 1:52 broke a 2-2 tie, and Brett Bulmer added an insurance marker with 7 seconds left to give the Minnesota Wild a 4-2 victory over the host Detroit Red Wings.

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