The New York Rangers continued their winning ways tonight as they defeated Anaheim Ducks rather convincingly, and started out their California road trip on a very high note. The Rangers played a relatively safe game tonight, despite two early third period penalties, and controlled a majority of the play at even strength. Henrik Lundqvist was Henrik Lundqvist-like once again, and made several keys saves in the second period when the Ducks were knocking on the door.
The first period of this game didn't contain any scoring, but to say it lacked any action would be the understatement of the year. These two teams went at each other right off of the opening face-off, which didn't leave a whole lot of room out there in the opening 20 minutes. The Rangers had some quality chances early on in the period, but a shaky Ilya Bryzgalov was up to the task for the most part.
Finally, at the 9:10 mark of the second period, the Rangers broke through with their first goal on a delayed penalty call. With Henrik Lundqvist at the bench for the extra attacker, J.T. Miller curled up at the blue line to give himself some extra time to operate. Just as he was starting to turn up ice, Derick Brassard bolted off of the bench as the extra man, and gave Miller a wide open passing lane. Miller fed a crisp cross-ice feed over to Brassard, and he bombed a heavy slap shot through the legs of Bryzgalov for the 1-0 lead.
Also a big heads up play by Marc Staal to hulk his way to the front of the net knowing that there was a delayed call, and provided the screen on Brassard's shot. Following the Rangers goal, the Ducks started to amp up their pressure quite a bit and started coming at the Rangers in waves. Luckily, Lundqvist has been lights out over the last while, and kept the Ducks are bay during their outbreaks.
After coming away unscathed in the second period, and still holding onto their 1-0 lead, the Rangers quickly capitalized early on in the third period. After a failed 2-on-1 attempt coming up ice, Rick Nash was able to pressure Sami Vatanen at the side of the net and forced the turnover. Kevin Klein was able to knock the puck down in the high slot, and ripped a hard slap shot as soon as the puck hit the ice. With Nash stationed in front of the net, he was able to get a very slight piece of the puck, and deflected it under Bryzgalov for the 2-0 lead.
Just as the Rangers were starting to ride some of their momentum into the second half of the period, Derek Stepan took a very lazy delay of game call. That sent the Anaheim Ducks to their third power play of the night, and this time around, they wouldn't be held scoreless. Just ten seconds into the man advantage, Francois Beauchemin ripped a shot through traffic in the high slot, and the puck skipped its way over the shoulder of Henrik Lundqvist.
It was fairly obvious that Lundqvist wasn't able to track the puck until it was too late, and he was visibly frustrated after giving up the goal to make it a one point game. Just four minutes later, the Rangers backed Lundqvist up with another goal to regain their two goal lead. Mats Zuccarello was the recipient of the goal, as he finally elected to shoot the puck instead of passing, and smoked it over Bryzgalov's shoulder. Rick Nash also createed the entire play by positioning himself well, and forced Beauchemin into turning the puck over to Zuccarello.
With the Ducks desperately looking to get back into the game, they yanked Bryzgalov with a little over two minutes remaining in regulation, but it didn't do them any good. Lee Stempniak was able to break up a play at the blue line shortly after, and chipped the puck out of the zone to relieve the pressure. Dominic Moore was able to chase down the loose puck at the blue line, and sailed it into the empty net to put the final nail in the coffin.
Tonight was one of those measuring stick type of games for the Rangers, and they passed the test with flying colors. However, while it was an extremely encouraging sign, the Rangers still have two more tough games coming up against the Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks. The Rangers will have little time celebrate this one, as they will be right back in action tomorrow night against the Kings. Let's make it two for two.