MATT: Aside from that nine-second span in the second period — the first with a man-down — I thought Henrik Lundqvist continued the strong play he's had over the last few weeks, despite the loss. After that span, Lundqvist was perfect and gave the Rangers a chance to win the game, and that's all you can ask for from your goaltender. On most nights recently, two goals against is enough to win the game, so you can definitely say Lundqvist did his part to walk away with two points.
My second star goes to Brad Richards, who seems back to being the Richards we saw early in the season when he was far and away the best player on the Rangers' squad. Richards scored the team's lone goal by getting into position outside the crease to bang a one-timer home past Ben Bishop, giving him 12 goals on the season, and also extended his point streak to six games, during which No. 19 has eight points. Aside from the goal, Richards was active all night and is really developing chemistry with Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, and continues to be a focal point on the team's dangerous power play. Even when they're not scoring with the man advantage, they're pressuring and building momentum, and Richards is a big part of that. He finished his night with four shots, a hit, two blocked shots and won 16 of 21 faceoffs (76 percent).
I hope readers don't feel that we're biased by constantly having him among the three stars, but Ryan McDonagh rarely gives us a reason to not have him on here, and last night was not one of those nights. McDonagh is just a blast to watch night after night with his speed and his ability to neutralize the opposition's top forwards, which he did last night against Martin St. Louis, who left New York City with an assist but it came on the power play. Aside from that, St. Louis wasn't a factor all night despite logging more than 21 minutes, and McDonagh was a large reason for that. No. 27 finished his night with three shots, two hits, four takeaways and five blocked shots in 25:48 of ice time.
JIM: I'll go a couple steps further, Matt, I thought Ryan McDonagh was the best Ranger on the ice last night and I give him my No. 1 Star. Defensively he was sound as always, and he was very involved on the offensive end, too, more so than he had been in recent games. The numbers were there---5 blocked shots, 4 takeaways, 3 shots on goal, a plus-one--but it's what you see with your eyes when it comes to McDonagh that let you know just how good he is and how good he is playing. Even when he makes his mistake, he is so good at recovering quickly and making sure his mistake does not hurt the team.
I agree with Brad Richards as the Second Star. He was very active all night offensively, and his goal did extend his point-scoring streak to six straight games, equaling his own team high for the season. He led the team with four shots on goal, won a whopping 76 percent of his faceoffs and even blocked a couple of shots. The last two weeks Richards really has returned to form, and Tuesday night was just the latest example.
My No. 3 Star is Ryan Callahan, who was physical, played with an edge, and had terrific jump in his legs Tuesday. Callahan was in on the forecheck all night, and made a nice little pass to Richards on the Rangers only goal. He finished with three shots on goal, nearly had a couple of goals himself, and was credited with five hits and two blocked shots. His game is rounding into shape, you are starting to see more consistency in his play since his return from the sprained knee.