Facing one of the league’s best teams, the Rangers quacked the Ducks literally snapping out of it with a season high seven goals in a 7-2 win at MSG. It moved them up to 99 points tying Anaheim and Montreal for the league lead. By virtue of more regulation and overtime wins (42) and three more games remaining, they vaulted to the top for the President’s Trophy.
Entering the match, they had struggled offensively. In a back-to-back, they showed up ready from the start. Chris Kreider got it started by getting to a rebound in front and stuffing home his career best 18th goal at 1:24. The play was set up from Derek Stepan, who broke out in a big way scoring twice and assisting on another to erase a 12-game pointless drought. Ryan McDonagh took the shot which Stepan deflected. The puck took a weird bounce and Kreider beat Frederik Andersen.
Early on, Corey Perry did his best to keep the Ducks in it scoring twice in a high scoring first period where the teams combined for five goals. Off a strong cycle, Perry answered Kreider 1:26 later when he skated to open ice and used J.T. Miller as a screen surprising Cam Talbot for his 30th. Patrick Maroon and Sami Vatanen assisted.
A Maroon boarding minor resulted in a miracle of sorts. A power play goal was scored by the home team. This actually happened when Keith Yandle made a soft pass for a Stepan one-timer that eluded Andersen with Kreider screening in front. It was their first PPG in their last 19. Yandle had a breakout game recording three assists. He only had a goal since coming over from Arizona. A great outlet sent Kevin Hayes in. The rookie wisely skated and fired a turnaround shot that Carl Hagelin got a piece of to chase Andersen. He allowed three goals on seven shots before John Gibson came in.
Less than a minute later, Perry made another all world play when in open ice he maneuvered around McDonagh to the inside and beat Talbot with a nice snapshot cutting it to 3-2 with 8:48 left. The period was very chippy. The Ducks made a point to finish every check. During a shift, Dan Boyle took a tough hit. When he came to the bench, he sought out Perry and the two exchanged punches going to their respective penalty boxes for matching roughs. Ryan Kesler also got involved when he tripped Dan Girardi. The second penalty he drew.
After the teams combined for five goals and 28 shots with the Ducks getting 17 on Talbot, the Rangers took control in the second. Playing smarter defensively while continuing to use their team speed, they scored the only two goals of the middle stanza. Off a rush started by Yandle, Mats Zuccarello made a nice cross-ice feed for Miller, who went top shelf on Gibson for his second goal in two days. So far, he’s looked good playing with Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. Miller is up to nine goals.
Leading 4-2, the Rangers got a big goal with 3:59 left in the second. Taking full advantage of a Francois Beauchemin turnover, Stepan patiently waited for an Anaheim defenseman to move before firing through Gibson’s wickets for his second of the night.
In the third, they put it out of reach. Jesper Fast continued his improvement by scoring for a second consecutive game from Hayes to make it 6-2. A couple of minutes later, more great passing from Zuccarello resulted in Brassard scoring his first in seven.
Talbot did the rest turning aside all 15 Anaheim shots in the third including a stone job on Perry denying his bid for a hat trick. He leads the NHL with three. Overall, Talbot finished with 36 saves. That makes it nine straight games he’s allowed two goals or fewer.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-J.T. Miller, NYR (goal-9th, assist, +2 in 12:40)
2nd Star-Keith Yandle, NYR (3 assists, 4 SOG, +3 in 20:41)
1st Star-Derek Stepan, NYR (2 goals-12, 13, assist, 5 SOG in 7 attempts, +1 in 16:43)