Emotional Johns scores 1st goal, Stars beat Rangers 5-3

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Johns wasn’t sure he’d ever score another goal — let alone with his parents in the stands.

“I waited a long time,” he said.

Johns scored his first goal since his return from a lengthy absence, Joe Pavelski scored power-play goals 16 seconds apart and the Dallas Stars chased goalie Henrik Lundqvist and beat the New York Rangers 5-3 Monday night.

Johns and Blake Comeau scored 4:04 apart in the second period and Corey Perry also scored for Dallas, which improved to 30-18-4 with its second straight win. Anton Khudobin stopped 33 of 36 shots.

Pavel Buchnevich and Brett Howden scored first period power-play goals for the Rangers, and Brendan Lemieux added another on a man-advantage in the third. New York had won two straight coming out of the All-Star break and a bye week as the front office weighs its options ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

“Every game is going to be key for us,” Brady Skjei said. “We have a lot of big games ahead.”

Johns played his fourth game since missing all of last season and the first 47 games of this one with post-traumatic headaches. He slammed a heavy slap shot 7:52 into the second period to break a 2-2 tie and give Dallas its second advantage of the game. Comeau followed with a snap shot from the left side at 11:56 to extend the lead to 4-2.

Johns got emotional discussing the goal, especially because his parents attended the game.

“Thought a lot about possibly never doing that again,” Johns said. He later tweeted that it was “a night I’ll never forget” and “the only thing I could think of all night were my parents sitting in the crowd.”

Comeau’s goal was the 14th in his career against Lundqvist, who was pulled after two periods having stopped 11 of 15 shots.

Buchnevich put New York up 1-0 with his power-play goal 2:29 into the game. Dallas has allowed the first goal in seven straight games.

Pavelski put Dallas ahead with two quick goals. He deflected John Klingberg’s shot past Lundqvist at 8:08 for his first power-play goal, then connected again seconds later after Rangers coach David Quinn unsuccessfully challenged whether a shot from Tyler Seguin was out of play and was hit with a two-minute delay of game penalty.

Howden tied it with 4:19 left in the first. The goal was initially waved off after Bowden touched the puck with his hand, but a review showed he used his stick to knock the puck into the net and the call was overturned.

Alexandar Georgiev relieved Lundqvist and stopped 5 of 6 shots.

“We stopped playing for a bit and they took advantage,” Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad said. “We did some positive things but not enough.”

NOTES: Chris Kreider did not dress for the Rangers. New York’s top-line left wing was inadvertently kneed in the head Saturday by Zibanejad in the Rangers’ 1-0 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. Kreider was replaced in the lineup by Phillip Di Giuseppe, who the Rangers called up from AHL Hartford Sunday. … Roope Hintz returned to the Stars lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury. … New York scratched Michael Haley and Igor Shesterkin, while the Stars’ scratches were Taylor Fedun, Joel Kiviranta, and Roman Polak.

UP NEXT

Stars: Conclude a three-game trip through the New York-metropolitan area Tuesday at the New York Islanders.

Rangers: Continue their four-game homestand Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.