Game #33: Comeback Kids as Rangers rally with big third in 3-1 win over Ducks

Let me start off this post by saying last night’s game won’t go down as a NHL classic. It set back hockey to the dull period when scoring was hard to come by. However, it would be doing this team a disservice not to give them a lot of credit for the third period comeback they had.

After only getting 10 shots in the first two periods, the Rangers responded with a huge third to rally from a goal down and defeat the Ducks 3-1 on home ice. A good character builder for this young group. Even if it took advantage of a weary Anaheim team playing for the second straight night, it was the kind of effort first-year coach David Quinn has been preaching. That key element had been missing since Thanksgiving.

I figured the game would not be easy on the eyes. Being a little out of it, I chose to listen to the radio instead. Besides, Kenny Albert is one of the best at describing the action. Plus it’s always a treat to hear what former captain Dave Maloney has to say. On a night the refs were hideous, he didn’t pull any punches.

Things got a little crazy. By that, I mean following a save by Anaheim backup Chad Johnson, who was claimed due to a injury that will sideline veteran Ryan Miller for a while, Vladislav Namestnikov tried to poke in a loose rebound. After a second attempt, he got clocked from behind by Ryan Getzlaf. One of the game’s toughest stars, the gritty Ducks captain didn’t take kindly to seeing Namestnikov poke at Johnson. I understand that. I would want the same from our side. Fortunately, they respond quicker to that now under Quinn.

What I didn’t like was the fact Getzlaf got away with a couple of cross checks on a defenseless Namestnikov during the scrum that followed. Maloney went ballistic about it on the radio. At the time, the Ducks were on a power play when the chaos happened. Somehow, refs Frederick L’Ecuyer and Jean Hebert gave both Getzlaf and Namestnikov four minutes apiece for roughing. Ryan Kesler received an extra two for cross-checking. So, it still cancelled out the Anaheim power play. But it was ridiculous that Getzlaf got away with those cheap shots. Listen to what Quinn said afterwards.

I love what his response was to both the Filip Chytil “goaltender interference” minor penalty they had to kill late and the sarcastic remark on what Getzlaf did. “I guess the instigator fighting rule is just to take up ink in the rulebook, apparently.”

There wasn’t much else going on the first 40 minutes. The two teams combined for only 24 shots. That’s insane. But the Ducks led 1-0 thanks to a lucky bounce. Pontus Aberg got credit for his 11th of the season when his pass banked in off poor Mika Zibanejad at 14:09 of the second. I felt bad for him and rookie starter Alexandar Georgiev. It looked like that break against them would be enough to lose.

The third period was a different story. They carried the play and took it to the Ducks, who tried to win the game 1-0. Eventually, the Rangers got the game tied thanks to ironically, Namestnikov. In a twist of fate, he buried a beautiful feed from rookie Brett Howden for his fourth to tie it up with 10:08 left. Jimmy Vesey started the play by getting the puck to Howden, who skated into open space and made a great pass that Namestnikov finished. Poetic justice.

The fun part about listening to Albert call the action is I can usually tell when a goal is about to happen. I’ve listened to enough games to know. It’s different from watching. Unless you’re there live as both my Dad and Justin were last night, the radio call is ahead of the TV feed. That brief delay is something I’ve always found unique.

After tying it up, the Blueshirts didn’t let up. As Quinn noted in the video above, there was more pace from his team in the third. All they had to do was play a good third to turn it around. Especially true against a tired opponent playing their sixth period in two nights. They outshot the Ducks 14-1 the rest of the way, holding a playoff team to 15 total shots. That was a welcome change with Georgiev (14 saves) back in net. He only had to make one big stop, doing so earlier in the match with the team trailing by one in the second.

The Chytil penalty with 2:35 remaining. He was shoved from behind into Johnson. Instead, it gave the Ducks a chance to late. It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Kevin Hayes is playing the best hockey of his career. A good two-way player who plays in every situation, he scored his second shorthanded goal with 40 seconds remaining for the game-winner. A Namestnikov lead pass sent Hayes in. His shot snuck past Johnson for a 2-1 Rangers lead.

Fittingly, Namestnikov recorded his third point of the period by picking up the primary assist on Chytil’s empty netter at 19:41. Zibanejad also added a secondary assist.


3rd 🌟 David Quinn, NYR (self explanatory)

2nd 🌟 Kevin Hayes, NYR (game-winning shorthanded goal with 40 seconds remaining)

1st 🌟 Vladislav Namestnikov, NYR (tying goal-4th, 2 assists)

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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