DALLAS — It was a coming-out celebration for Kaapo Kakko, and it got here at a really opportune time.
The Rangers bought the second two-goal activity of the 19-year-old’s profession as they began their pivotal three-game journey with a 4-2 victory over the Stars on Tuesday night.
Kakko was taken with the No. 2-overall decide within the draft in June, and he had not scored a purpose since Feb. 9, and that was the one purpose on his ledger since Jan. 4.
But with Igor Shesterkin rediscovering his kind in nets after a dud within the 6-Four loss to the Devils on Saturday night on the Garden — the primary activity returned for Shesterkin after he missed two weeks with a damaged rib suffered in a automobile crash final month — the Rangers (37-28-4) had been ready to get themselves out of a rut.
The Blueshirts had gone 1-4-0 over their earlier 5 — beginning when Chris Kreider broke his foot in Philadelphia on Feb. 28 — and beating the falling Stars (37-24-8), bought them returned to inside putting distance of the East’s second wild card.
Either manner, it had been clear to the Blueshirts that they wanted to play higher in the event that they needed to hold tempo within the race.
“For probably the most half, we’ve executed a reasonably good job, nevertheless it’s the consistency facet that has type of eluded us over these final 4 or 5 video games,” coach David Quinn mentioned earlier than puck drop.
After the primary interval, the Rangers had been with out heart Filip Chytil, who suffered a lower-body damage and didn’t return. But by the beginning of the third, Kakko already had his two targets and the Rangers had been up, 4-0.
Yet the primary shutout of Shesterkin’s profession remained elusive, as Roope Hintz scored a power-play purpose 1:23 into the third to make it 4-1. The Stars saved coming, and Andrew Cogliano buried a unfastened puck with 8:08 remaining in regulation to make it 4-2.
But the Rangers had been ready to kill a late penalty on Brendan Smith, in addition to the ultimate two minutes with Dallas goalie Ben Bishop on the bench for the additional attacker — ending up a superb efficiency by beginning this journey on the best foot.
There had been quite a lot of emphasis on this street journey, because it goes to Colorado for the second leg of a back-to-back Wednesday night, then, after a pair days off, winds up in Arizona on Saturday. But with Shesterkin displaying indicators of stability early on — after giving up 5 targets on 23 pictures towards the Devils on Saturday earlier than being changed by Henrik Lundqvist initially of the third interval — there was a renewed calm from the crease out.
“When you miss that a lot hockey, you anticipate somewhat little bit of rust,” Quinn had mentioned about Shesterkin’s layoff. “As we’ve all talked about, we’ve got a superb really feel for what he’s all about as a goalie and a competitor.”
Shesterkin bought some assist straight away when Adam Fox scored simply 19 seconds into the sport, strolling into the slot and beating Bishop stick-side for a 1-Zero lead. The lead was doubled at 10:12 when Mika Zibanejad stayed red-hot, ending a pleasant setup from Brendan Lemieux to make it 2-0. It was Zibanejad’s 40th purpose of the season in his 56th activity, the quickest any Ranger has reached that plateau (one activity faster than Jean Ratelle in 1971-72).
Then got here the primary large second for Kakko, getting an amazing feed from Brett Howden off the left wall for an open one-timer from the slot, entering into at 7:03 of the second and giving his group a 3-Zero lead. The pleasure for Kakko from the bench was palpable, because the grind of the season has worn on the gifted Finn. He has simply eight targets by way of his first 64 NHL video games.
But by the point the second interval ended, he had 10 — ending a backhand right into a gaping web after a slick feed from Zibanejad at 17:18, permitting his group to take a commanding 4-Zero lead into the third.