Rangers go for back-to-back road wins at skidding Ducks
After earning their first road win nearly a month into the season, the New York Rangers will try to make it two in a row when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night at Honda Center.
The Rangers (4-7-1) gave up another last-minute goal on Tuesday night to the San Jose Sharks, but rebounded to win 4-3 in the shootout and improve to 1-4-1 on the road this season.
The win came two days after the Rangers blew a two-goal lead at the Los Angeles Kings and later surrendered the tiebreaking goal with 55 seconds left in a 4-3 loss.
"We're learning," New York first-year coach David Quinn told reporters after the win in San Jose. "We've got to learn to close games out."
The loss to Los Angeles allowed the Kings to end a six-game losing streak, and next the Rangers will face an Anaheim team that has lost six in a row.
The Ducks (5-6-2) can relate to New York's late-game frustrations. They tied the score against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers at 17:48 of the third period on Tuesday, only to give up the go-ahead goal 21 seconds later in the 3-2 defeat.
"That's as high and low as you get in a matter of seconds," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said.
The season so far has been a roller coaster for Anaheim, which got off to a 5-1-1 start, despite numerous injuries that have forced coach Randy Carlyle to play a half-dozen rookies so far.
One of the standouts recently has been left wing Pontus Aberg, who has scored four goals in the past two games to take over the team lead. Aberg was claimed off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 1 and has played just seven games for the Ducks, though he figures to be a regular in the lineup moving forward.
Aberg is the first Anaheim player with back-to-back multi-goal games since Daniel Winnik in 2013.
The team leader in points is also a surprise.
Anaheim defenseman Hampus Lindholm had an assist on Aberg's first goal on Tuesday night to give him eight points (two goals, six assists).
Getzlaf has five points (two goals, three assists) in the past three games.
John Gibson is expected to start in goal for Anaheim after backup Ryan Miller played Tuesday night. Gibson is fourth in the NHL with a .938 save percentage, despite getting bombarded with 127 shots in three games last week.
The Ducks are allowing a league-high 38.8 shots on net this season. No team has averaged more than 36 shots against since the 2000-01 season.
Getzlaf said the key to turning the season around is simple.
"Just keep going," he said. "All we can do is get back to work in practice and recognize what we're doing wrong, and fix it."
New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist told reporters after the win in San Jose that the Rangers can't afford to breathe a sigh of relief after getting their first road victory.
"This road trip in which we're playing good teams has been a test, but we have to continue to stay positive and learn from the good and the bad," Lundqvist said.