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NEW YORK – Analyzing his most difficult point total this season, Capo Cacoco offers this candid assessment.

“Sometimes I feel like I’ve been through too much,” the Rangers forward said last week. I need to shoot more.

The confirmation came in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Stars at Madison Square Garden.

Kakko scored his seventh goal, four of which have come in the last nine games, by deflecting a wrist shot in a narrow window over the right shoulder of Dallas goaltender Scott Wedgewood.

“I’ve had good luck before,” Kako said. “(Johnny Brodzinski) passed it to me behind the net and I couldn’t see the puck, so when I got it I didn’t shoot. Then I got the chance again, and I thought it was a good line. I tried. Shoot.”

The decisive result came as the 23-year-old tied his highest point difference in five games against the Blueshers, who are in the first place of the Central Division.

Capo Second: He talks about the rumors of the Rangers front line in a one-on-one conversation

There has been a clear increase in confidence in that product. Kakko has been hustling lately and it was especially noticeable on Tuesday, whether it was guarding the Cubs in the offensive zone or keeping a strong eye on the defense.

“This looks great,” head coach Peter Laviolette said before the game. “To me, he’s moving his feet, he’s creating, he’s playing with some attitude and some edge there. The line (with Johnny Brodzinski and Will Quill) has been good, but I think he’s a big part of driving that line. He’s back from a (left-foot) injury; He seems to be getting stronger and stronger throughout the game.

Continuing to build on that line will be critical to the Rangers’ efforts to extend their lineup, especially after losing veteran right wing Blake Wheeler for at least the rest of the regular season.

LaViolet’s next step is to find more ways to use Caco, which has a modest 12:21 time on Snow Tuesday and a month-long 14:11 eclipse.

“He had another solid game,” the coach said. “I’ve got to find a way to get him out there more. That’s on me, because he’s playing really well right now. … The shot on the short side — we go glove most nights, when we want to block. He goes on that short side, the defender and he makes a really good goal.” “I think his confidence plays into that. I see that. He’s looking confident on the ice. He’s asking for the puck, but when he has it, it’s tough. He’s trying to find spaces to take it away, score goals and be effective.”

Avoid emotional breakdown

Kako isn’t the only one riding high lately.

The Rangers (37-16-3) have won a season-high eight games — their longest streak since 2015-16 — and avoided falling into the trap of an upcoming NHL Stadium series against the Islanders with Sunday’s extraordinary 6-5 overtime victory.

“After that emotional win, it would have been easy for us to get a little carried away,” defender Adam Fox said. But I thought we were from the beginning.

At that rate, they entered a race with the stars and came out flying.

They rattled off 15 hits in the first period alone, some of which from big starters Adam Edstrom and Matt Rempe fired up the MSG crowd. They were limited to 7:47 and 5:08 TOI respectively, but made their presence felt while on the ice.

“It’s not a reflection of their minutes not being played well,” said Laviolette, who noted that a total of eight free throws between the two teams disrupted their line rotation. “They were outstanding. I’m happy with the way they played. They definitely bought it physically off the bat. You get it on the pre-mark, you put it behind you, and they’re coming – and they’re going. To hit the body.”

Rangers also created dangerous chances in that spirited first period.

As usual, the Artemi Panarin-Vincent Trocheck-Alexis Lafreniere line was in the middle for a bit — like a Natural Stat Trick on their way to a 9-2 rout of the Stars — and helped set up a goal to take an early 1-0 lead.

He scored seven points (one goal and six assists) in the last three games for the Foxes, who were on fire, but that wouldn’t have happened if Lafreniere hadn’t fought up front to force Wedgewood out of position and sneak Panari in behind. The net for the main helper.

That point came at 8:23 of the second period when Kako doubled the lead when Miro Heiskanen scored on the power play to cut the Stars’ deficit to 2-1.

But this will be a Dallas score.

“We were winning in different ways,” Fox said. “That’s when you see the points are so important. You start to get some sort of qualifying picture, and you see eight straight wins. Teams are still with you. You can’t take your foot off the gas. I think we realized that.

Igor Shesterkin finished strong

The Rangers allowed 42 shots, but limited their opponents to just nine five-on-five scoring opportunities. And when you want a big save from Igor Shesterkin, you get it.

“Our best man tonight was Shesti in net,” Laviolette said. He did whatever it took to make sure we got the win.

The 28-year-old goalkeeper was under siege for a long time against the Isles on Sunday and had some shaky moments, particularly in the first period. He joked that he and opposing goalkeeper Ilya Sorokin were the only two people who were not happy about the game’s memorable clash.

“I usually give up less goals in practice than this game,” Shesterkin said with a smile.

But he was on point Tuesday, finishing with 41 saves. That included Windmill’s glove rush on Wyatt Johnston late in the second period and a few more in the third as the Stars pressed for a tie.

The most impressive came at 4:18, when Tyler Seguin wobbled in front of the Rangers’ net and drained two point-blank shots from the crease. Shesterkin knocked the first one off with his skates, then threw himself onto the ice and extended his stick to stop the recovery attempt.

The home crowd chanted “Ai-Gor! Ai-Gor!” After the puck is covered.

“I tried to play until the end,” Shesterkin said. If he had gone up it would have been a goal but I was lucky tonight.

He was more than lucky with his 31st straight win, improving his overall record to 23-12-1.

Trocheck netted his 19th goal of the season, capping another encouraging night for the Rangers’ key player.

“Everybody’s on the same page now,” Shesterkin said. “Support each other, play for everyone and try to do your best.”

Vincent Z. Mercoliano is a New York Rangers beat reporter for the USA TODAY Network. Read more of his work at lohud.com/sports/rangers/ and follow him on Twitter. @vzmercogliano.