JIM: Henrik Lundqvist was more than good enough last night to lead the Rangers to victory, IF only his team could have found a way to score a goal or two against Ben Scrivens. Lundqvist, who had allowed three goals in each of his last two starts, was rock solid and nearly perfect during Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Kings---beaten only on a shot that deflected past him after striking Anton Stralman and changing direction. He made 29 saves in total--13 in the third period to keep the deficit at a managable one goal---and in my opinion was the Rangers No. 1 Star. Lundqvist was sound positionally, strong when the Kings jammed his crease, and left LA as frustrated as Scrivens left the Blueshirts.
For my Second Star I am going with Brad Richards, who led the team with seven shots on goal and was the only Ranger anywhere near 50 percent in faceoffs at 47% while the team as a whole won only 37 percent of its faceoffs. Richards played 21 minutes, was engaged in the offensive flow, and never hesitant to shoot the puck, though like the rest of his teammates could not find a way to beat Scrivens.
Dominic Moore is my choice for Third Star. He played a second straight energetic and hungry game after returning from an oblique injury, was excellent on the forecheck, constantly getting in someone's face. His last shift led to a goal that was eventually disallowed because he kicked it into the net, but Moore was an absolute dynamo on that shift even before the goal that was not to be. Moore played only 10:32, but had four shots on goal and four hits, and I think I noticed him every time he was on the ice.
MATT: Henrik Lundqvist was undoubtably the best Ranger last night, and certainly deserved a better fate than he was given. He was phenomenal, and the only puck that got by went off the skate of Anton Stralman. That's hockey, though. It truly is a game of inches. After the difficult start, Lundqvist is back to being Lundqvist, as his 29 saves showed last night. I felt last night he did a good job of staying with the puck, turning aside the first opportunities from the Kings and being mindful of rebounds and was more aggressive at the top of his crease than we've seen in the past. After a performance like that, you feel for any goalie who doesn't walk away on top.
My second star was Dominic Moore, much for the same reasons you wrote about. I thought he was great Saturday night and followed it up Sunday night with another strong performance, especially on the Rangers' lone penalty kill of the night, when Moore carried the puck up the ice, did a spin move and backhanded a shot on Ben Scrivens. Later, it appeared that he tied the game, but the replay showed he kicked the puck into the net, thus negating the goal. He may not put up big numbers, but having a guy like Moore on the fourth line certainly brings a calming influence and it allows the coaching staff to put the line on in big defensive situations.
In a game where no one on the team scores, it's difficult to choose different players for this section, so I have to copy you and take Brad Richards as well. As you hinted at, the Rangers struggled in the faceoff circle all night, but Richards was the one guy who was close to being successful. Richards has looked really strong the last handful of games, and seems to be playing with the same confidence he had early in the season when he was far and away the team's best forward. Not only did he finish with seven shots, he attempted another three and led all Rangers forwards with 21:04 of ice time.
1- Henrik Lundqvist
2- Dominic Moore
3- Brad Richards