Bryzgalov’s first start back in Anaheim spoiled by Rangers

Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov played his first game at the Honda Center since 2007 on Wednesday night, and he wanted a win. 

The New York Rangers handed the Ducks a 4-1 loss, but the game was much closer than the crooked number and Bryzgalov’s demeanor would indicate. The Ducks goalie looked as though someone stole his puppy, clearly bothered by the loss to the Rangers in what was actually an impressive performance for him. 

It was only his second start of the season and his third time appearing in a game. The veteran signed only a month ago as an injury replacement and has proved that he’s ready for more.

"I battled hard. Compared to my last game in Ottawa, it was a lot better." Bryzgalov said. "It’s a positive moment, but I need more work. When you play more games, you’re going to be more in game-shape and ready for game moments. Practice is one thing, but in games it’s a different thing."

Bryzgalov gave up three goals on 30 shots faced, a far better outcome than his first game in net last month. He might need more time to get back into the shape he wants to be in, but if this is an accurate representation of what he is capable of doing as a backup, the Ducks have finally found their man to relieve Frederik Andersen on a regular basis.

"I thought he made some really good saves," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "The first goal he let in was iffy, between his legs, then there was a shot from the slot that Nash tipped, the other one was right under the bar short-sided. He had it completely covered, I thought, there wasn’t much room for it to go in. I thought he did what he had to do.

"But he definitely wasn’t the reason that we ended up losing the game."

The game was a collective loss; fluky bounces and giveaways couldn’t be pinned on Bryzgalov. 

"We need to give him more than one goal to win the game," said defenseman Francois Beauchemin. "Our execution wasn’t really high. That’s the one thing that has to be better."

The Rangers’ tremendous speed overwhelmed the Ducks at times, and the pressure applied effectively forced costly turnovers. One such turnover, an errant clearing attempt by Beauchemin in the third period, proved to be dagger as Mats Zuccarello intercepted the puck in the circle and sliced it into the one area of net not covered. 

Zuccarrello made the score 3-1, an insurmountable lead considering the stalwart play of the New York defense.

"Their speed and structure of their game is really good," Boudreau said. "We had some bad turnovers, no doubt. We gave them two goals and they scored the empty netter. They’re a really good team that deserved to win. They played better than us. We had chances, we didn’t bury them."

The loss marked only the fourth time in the last 17 games that the league-leading Ducks failed to earn any standings points. But the late breakdown can’t be pinned on the goalie. The goalie might be the positive to take from the loss. 

"I think he played pretty good tonight," Sami Vatanen said. "They weren’t his goals. I think we’ve got to play a little bit better defense but overall, he played a really good game."