ANAHEIM, Calif. – Coming off a 5-3 loss in San Jose to the Sharks, the Ducks were looking to get back in the win column. So too were the New York Rangers, who fell 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings last night. In the end, the Rangers came out victorious after erasing a two-goal deficit.
The Ducks were 2-7-1 in their last 10 games with a minus-17 goal differential coming into their matchup against the Rangers. Special teams were especially putrid, with a 12.12% conversion rate on the power play and a 70.96 penalty kill percentage.
Adam Henrique got Anaheim on the board less than a minute into the game, collecting a nice pass from Leo Carlsson and roofing a backhand over the shoulder of Igor Shesterkin. Henrique would double the lead with just under five minutes remaining in the first, cleaning up the loose change in front after Carlsson and Troy Terry played catch in the offensive zone.
“I just try to be that supportive player with those guys,” said Henrique. “Try to find those holes, try to get to the net. Just trying to work and do what I can to help those guys find space.”
“That was our best line,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “They might have been one of the best lines on the ice. You can’t win a hockey game with one line going though.”
Penalties proved to be an issue for both teams in the second, with each team taking three penalties apiece. The Rangers converted on one of their man advantages, with Chris Kreider picking up Adam Fox’s stretch pass off the boards and finding a trailing Vincent Trocheck, who put home his ninth power play goal of the season.
“They’re a good team,” said Henrique. “They pushed back after the first. I think we were still right there, just trying to find and get that third one.”
It appeared that Anaheim had added a third goal five minutes into the third period, but the Rangers challenged that the zone entry was offside and the goal was overturned after video review. Five minutes later, the Rangers would tie the game off a Will Cuylle deflection. Jacob Trouba’s shot from the point through a sea of bodies gave goaltender Lukáš Dostál no chance of making a save after the deflection.
“After that goal was disallowed, it kind of woke them up and they put the pressure on us,” said Cronin.
The second half of the third proved to be the Ducks’ downfall as a Mason McTavish tripping penalty allowed Artemi Panarin to convert a one-timer just 14 seconds into the Rangers’ man advantage. Chris Kreider would give the Blueshirts some cushion two minutes later when he smacked his rebound out of the air and into the net off the rush. Jimmy Vesey would ice the game with an empty net goal in the final minute.
“Both (power play goals) were gimmick goals, and I don’t mean that in a negative way,” said Cronin. “They throw it off the end wall and we go to the wrong side of the net. The only guy that could score the goal was on the goalie’s right and we went to the other side of him. It’s on the preparation report in the locker room. The other one where Panarin went around the net, that’s in there too. We just didn’t execute.”
“That’s kind of been all year for us, a lot of penalties,” said Henrique. “You’ve got to stay out of the box. Power plays are so good now. That can certainly change the momentum of the game.”