Ducks-Rangers Preview

New York is treating the Rangers quite a bit better than the

road.

The Rangers will go for a fourth straight win Monday night when

they host the Anaheim Ducks.

Since returning from a season-opening nine-game road trip, New

York (6-7-0) has won three of four. It has strung together two home

wins after beating the New York Islanders on Long Island.

The Rangers are in position to reach .500 for the first time

since the second game of the year. The turnaround can be traced to

an improved power play and the first offensive contributions of the

year from some top players.

Derek Stepan scored his first three goals of the season in

Saturday’s 5-1 win over Carolina, which was New York’s first game

scoring more than three goals. Carl Hagelin netted his first two in

his third game since returning from injured reserve.

“Hags’ speed definitely helps us,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault

said. “When he scored the way he did tonight and backing down their

defense the way he can do, it’s so important to a team having

success and winning games.”

Stepan’s first goal came on the power play at 15:54 of the

second and extended the lead to 3-0. The Rangers’ power play is 4

of 11 in three games after scoring five times on 32 opportunities

in their first 10 contests.

“We’ve certainly simplified things,” Stepan said. “Our

power-play goal was a play out of the corner … and a mad scramble

in front. If you look around the league, that’s how the power-play

goals are being scored.”

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has stopped 56 of 57 shots in the

last two, though he doesn’t have fond memories of his team’s last

meeting with the Ducks. He allowed six goals on 37 shots in a 6-0

loss at Anaheim on Oct. 10.

Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller earned the shutout with 34

saves.

The Ducks (11-3-1) haven’t lost in regulation since Oct. 24 at

Montreal. They’re 4-0-1 since and can pull ahead of San Jose for

sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division with another

road point as they complete a season-long eight-game trip.

The Ducks scored five straight goals after a slow first period

in Saturday’s 6-3 win at Buffalo. Corey Perry scored his

team-leading seventh and eighth goals of the season.

“We didn’t accept what we were doing in the first half of the

game,” Perry said. “When we got behind, that’s when everybody

realized what was going on, and we had to play better.”

They’ve climbed to the top of the division with little credit to

their special teams. Their power play is last in the league at 6.9

percent while their penalty kill is among the worst at 73.5

percent.

“If ever we can get this power play going, we’ll be an elite

team in this league,” Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. “So we’ve

just got to keep working, keep doing the right things.”

The Ducks haven’t visited the Rangers since Nov. 3, 2011, a 2-1

shootout loss. They’ve lost three straight at Madison Square Garden

since a 4-1 win on Feb. 7, 2008.