Stephen Johns Scores His First Goal In Two Years in Tonight’s 5-3 Win Against the Rangers

Welcome back, Stephen Johns!

The Dallas Stars are still on the road in New England, in Madison Square Garden tonight to play the New York Rangers in the first game of a New York City back-to-back.

The Rangers are without difference-maker Chris Kreider tonight, after he took a knee to the head from teammate Mika Zibanejad in Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings. Kreider was a game day decision, and it was clearly decided that he wasn’t ready. Even with him, the Rangers have not been having their best season, they’re still 9 points out of a playoff spot with a lot of defensive line woes.

Despite scoring his first NHL goal last night, Joel Kiviranta is a healthy scratch as Roope Hintz comes back from injury. Taylor Fedun and Roman Polak have also drawn the short straw tonight.

First period

The first period got weird, friends, but apparently that’s just a thing when the Stars play the Rangers. First, Andrew Cogliano took a tripping penalty against Artemi Panarin, who then assisted on a goal from Pavel Buchnevich, putting the Rangers up one in the first.

This is the 7th straight game in which the Stars have allowed the first goal, and the 11th game in the last 13.

That’s less than ideal.

Corey Perry new a penalty instead of taking one when Brendan Smith got called for interference almost 8 minutes into the game. At this time, (with a power play) the Rangers had 8 shots on goal to the Stars 1.

Tyler Seguin ripped a shot off that bounced off the post (remember this detail in a few moments). Jamie Benn got the puck to John Klingberg at the point, who shot it on goal for Joe Pavelski to redirect into the net. Awesome, tied at 1, right?

If you’re so inclined, pour one out for a Rangers fan tonight. Prior to the shot being taken, Tyler Seguin was signaling to the refs that the puck had gone out of play, hitting the net behind the goal after Seguin’s shot hit the post. The Rangers challenged the goal, believing this to be the case. The Stars broadcast showed several angles from which this seemed to be the case and figured the time spent reviewing was to find out exactly when that happened so they could move the clock back.

Not a single person watching was more surprised than Tyler Seguin when the puck was determined by the referees reviewing to have never left play, making the goal a good goal.

Likely, this is because the refs could not get a definitive angle that proves the puck was 100% out of play, meaning they would have to err on the side of letting the call on the ice stand.

The Rangers were assessed a bench minor for losing the review and Joe Pavelski scored again, 16 seconds after the last goal.

What’s truly amazing about this goal is that the Rangers had full possession of the puck in the Stars offensive zone. They tried to pass it between defensemen and just didn’t connect. The Stars stole the puck and a few seconds later it was behind Henrik Lundqvist.

The Stars were assessed a too many men penalty, served by Alexander Radulov. In the dying seconds of the power play, Kaapo Kakko took a shot on net that rolled up Esa Lindell’s torso. Brett Howden picked the puck out of the air and threw it to the ice and then swept it into the goal. The call on the ice was no goal for the hand movement, but the referees reviewed the goal and eventually determined that he swept the puck into the net with his stick after throwing it to the ice.

That really got out of hand.

Second Period

The first period was weird, but if there’s one shining take away moment in this game, it’s Stephen Johns’ first goal in almost two years.

It’s the first goal this game that didn’t occur on the power play, just an absolute howitzer of a shot from the top of the zone that somehow bypassed all obstacles in its way, including Lundqvist.

Blake Comeau reminded everyone that he’s still in the top five scorers against Lundqvist when he got an odd man rush with Johns.

Years playing for the New York Islanders (who the Stars play tomorrow) certainly help with that total, but it’s still pretty impressive.

The play started with a really handy chip from Seguin to get it down the boards, Comeau carried the puck in with Johns to take the shot.

Howden and Heiskanen took matching minors this period when Howden got called for tripping Heiskanen, who got called for embellishing. Look, either Heiskanen was tripped or he wasn’t, but calling him for embellishment when you’ve already called the other guy for tripping seems over the top. Also, a look at the replay pretty clearly shows that Heiskanen’s skates got tangled and he tripped because the ice at Madison Square Garden is pretty awful, by multiple accounts.

Either way, neither team scored during the 4 on 4.

Heiskanen got an opportunity for a breakaway late in the period and was hooked at center ice. Lundqvist made the save but for reasons that were never explained, Heiskanen didn’t get the penalty shot, the Stars instead got another power play. A little over a minute into the power play, Mika Zibenejad took a tripping penalty against Radulov, so the Stars closed the second period with 5 on 3, which they will also carry into the third.

Third Period

Alexandar Georgiev is in net to start the third period after Lundqvist allowed four goals on 15 shots through the first two periods.

Andrej Sekera took a shot from the point, Georgiev made a pad save and Corey Perry scored on the rebound, his first goal in 24 games.

He took the monkey off his back right after.

Roope Hintz, who has six minutes of penalty time in 42 games this season, took another penalty tonight against Brendan Lemieux, giving the Rangers the opportunity to erase Johns’ game winning goal. Which they did.

With a minute left in the game, Lemieux slashed the stick out of Benn’s hands and then took a shot on goal (which went into the net) after the whistle, which is very much not allowed in hockey. Benn made it very clear with a tackle to the ice how disrespectful he found that. Lemieux ended the game in the box for interference, and Benn for roughing.

Pavelski tried to end the game with an empty netter for the hat trick but was unfortunately unsuccessful.


The Stars will stay in the Big Apple to take on the New York Islanders tomorrow night. Puck drop will be 6 PM CT.