Following an impressive 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings last night, the New York Rangers were unable to get the job done and fell 6-3 to he Anaheim Ducks. Henrik Lundqvist made his return to the lineup tonight after missing several weeks, and turned away 23 of the 28 shots he faced. There was some obvious rust in his game which is expected after missing the time that he did. Give him another game or two and he’ll be right back up to speed in no time.
With the chance at a playoff berth in the back of their minds, the Rangers came out with a strong start in the first period. That quickly led to an early 1-0 lead for the Rangers as Rick Nash rifled a shot under Jonathan Bernier on a 2-on-1 rush. Marc Staal created the ensuing odd-man opportunity with a beautiful stretch pass up to Nash, and Nash was looking shot the entire way.
Shortly after the opening goal, the Ducks were able even up the game several minutes later coming off of a goal from Patrick Eaves. With Henrik Lundqvist screened at the top of the crease, Cam Fowler’s point shot generated a rebound off to the side of the net. Eaves was able to pounce on the loose puck off to the left side of the net, and tapped the puck into the empty net.
Nearing the closing minutes of the first period, the Rangers and Ducks traded goals once again to make 2-2 heading into the intermission. Derek Stepan was able to puick up the third goal of the game, after converting on a beautiful 3-on-1 passing play between Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello. After crossing up Bernier with all of the passing, the final pass landed on Stepan’s stick and he flipped the puck over the goalie to make it a 2-1 game.
A little under four minutes later, Ryan Kesler tied the game right back up with a deflection in front of the net. The goal trading continued in the second period with the Ducks taking their first lead of the evening coming from Josh Manson. The Ducks chance was created off of a brutal no-look pass by Mika Zibanejad that landed on Ryan Getzlaf’s tape, and the Ducks transitioned the other way.
The puck eventually made it’s way over to Mason who was the trailer on the play, and he put it past Lundqvist for the 3-2 lead. Thankfully, Mika Zibanejad was able to redeem himself a couple minutes later by forcing an offensive turnover of his own. He quickly found Vesey on the far side, and Vesey dropped it back to Brady Skjei who finished it off with a beautiful shot.
The little drop pass by Vesey changed the angle on the shot just enough, and Skjei’s shot was able to catch Bernier moving into position. While that goal should have given the Rangers some confidence heading into the third, the Rangers came out of the intermission a step behind the Ducks. As a result, the Ducks were able to rattle off two quick goals within the first four minutes, and jumped out to a 5-3 lead.
The first goal came courtesy of Andrew Cogliano, who tapped home a rebound off of a set faceoff place by Ryan Kesler. Shortly after, Patrick Eaves picked up his second goal of the night off of a counter attack back the other way. The Rangers certainly had their chances down by two goals, and it probably should have been a one goal came if not for a quick whistle.
Marc Staal appeared to bring the Rangers back within a goal, but the officials blew the play dead because they lost sight of the puck. It was a tough break for the Rangers, but it would prove to be meaningless with the Rangers not finding another goal. Nick Ritchie eventually iced the game with a little under two minutes remaining, and gave the Ducks the 6-3 victory.
After this back-to-back set, the Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow before returning to action on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.