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Heading into the contest with four points out of a possible eight on this four-game road trip, the New York Rangers were hoping to avoid being stymied by yet another bottom feeder in the NHL.
With the Rangers looking to finish a long road trip on a high, Henrik Lundqvist got the start between the pipes while Marc Staal was also in the lineup despite taking a puck to the ankle in the win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
And it was a dream start for the Blueshirts who landed the first blow of the night just seconds in after Mika Zibanejad took full advantage of a horrendous turnover in the Anaheim zone.
It only got better as Artemi Panarin unleashed a wicked snipe minutes later to put the Rangers firmly in the driving seat early.
Anaheim were not going down without a fight, though, as Jakob Silfverberg tipped in a Hampus Lindholm shot on the man advantage, despite the Ducks coming into the game with the second worst power play in the NHL.
A bad read from Lundqvist allowed Anaheim to make it a tied game early in the second period, and it was now on the Rangers to try to muster up a response to that setback.
The game was plagued by mistakes with both teams being riddled by errors, and it made for a crazy, disjointed contest that was dominated by turnovers and odd-man rushes.
However, the Rangers recorded a big goal inside the opening two minutes of the third period as Zibanejad took full advantage of a stellar feed from Tony DeAngelo to put his team back on top again.
Despite dominating large chunks of the final period, the Blueshirts were forced into overtime after Hampus Lindholm got a shot past Lundqvist in the final couple of minutes.
In the overtime, Zibanejad came closest as he pulled off a filthy move only to be denied by Gibson, and that ensured this contest went to a shootout.
And it was Zibanejad who scored the only goal for the Rangers in the shootout, with efforts from Ondrej Kase and Jakob Silfverberg enough to win the game for the Anaheim Ducks.
First Period – We mentioned in our Keys to the game segment in our preview that getting off to a fast, hard start today was going to be key.
Well, it seemed that the New York Rangers were paying attention because they wasted no time in striking first.
With just 10 seconds having passed, Ryan Getzlaf attempted to make a play in his own zone but his pass went straight to Mika Zibanejad who charged in on goal before switching to his backhand in order to beat John Gibson.
Henrik Lundqvist was called into action as he stopped shots from Josh Mahura and Hampus Lindholm, before it got even worse for the home team.
Another sloppy play in their own zone, this time by Gibson, cost the Ducks as Artemi Panarin got hold of the puck before unleashing a wicked wrister past the Anaheim goalie at 3:59.
Lundqvist was being tested a fair amount as he twice denied Cam Fowler, although he was beaten at 8:53 as Jakob Silfverberg converted on the power play to make it a one goal game at 8:53.
The Rangers then had a chance on the power play themselves but couldn’t make this one count after previously going 4-10 on the road trip, while Lundqvist made a big save on Sam Steel.
Anaheim survived another scary moment as the Rangers generated another high-danger chance, before Gibson had to come up big to thwart Brett Howden at the end of the period as the Blueshirts held a slight advantage on the shot board (11-10).
Second Period – Like the Rangers did in the first period, the Anaheim Ducks came out flying in the middle frame.
And it was a mistake by Henrik Lundqvist that presented the Ducks with a chance to make it a tied game at 1:02 as the goalie was overly aggressive in coming out, leaving a wide open net for Erik Gudbranson to stick the puck into an empty net.
It was a sloppy game of hockey with both teams guilty of being careless with the puck, in addition to not executing passes properly.
As a result, the game was up for grabs and Anaheim nearly got on the board next as Ryan Getzlaf chucked the puck on net, only for Lundqvist to make a big stop to keep out the puck with his left pad.
And Lundqvist had to keep coming up big as he kept out a wrister from Erik Gudbranson, before denying Sam Steel on a breakaway.
Marc Staal was given two minutes for slashing in the process, although the Rangers did a good job of killing that power play off.
Another Ducks power play, another turnover and another odd-man rush led to another chance for the home team, but again Lundqvist came up clutch with a glove save on Troy Terry.
The Rangers then had a chance on the rush themselves but Kaapo Kakko put too much power on his dish and Artemi Panarin fanned on the shot.
Panarin then forced a stop from John Gibson with what was a rare Rangers shot as they were outshot 18-3 in a horrible, mistake-riddled second period.
Brendan Lemieux put a shot over the net before Brady Skjei pulled off a brilliant defensive play in his own zone as the second period thankfully came to a close.
Third Period – The Rangers have done a good job of responding well to setbacks this year and they were at it again early in the final period.
At just 1:14, Mika Zibanejad latched onto a sublime pass from Tony DeAngelo before putting the puck through John Gibson for his second goal of the game, in addition to his fifth goal in his last four games.
It was a big goal and the mission for the Blueshirts was to build on it and go and get the job done in the remaining minutes.
Henrik Lundqvist made a flurry of important stops as the Ducks pressed for a way back into the contest, before it was Gibson’s turn to bat away a plethora of shots as the Rangers turned the screw.
Filip Chytil and Pavel Buchnevich were both denied in quick succession, as was Greg McKegg, and the Blueshirts were certainly flexing their attacking muscles.
New York was outshooting the Ducks 12-7 after registering just three shots on goal in the second period, but Gibson was doing his best impression of a brick wall as he stopped another Buchnevich shot.
Lundqvist was atoning for his earlier error by standing on his head down the stretch, although the Rangers didn’t do themselves any favors after gifting the Ducks a power play with 3:11 to play.
However, the Blueshirts couldn’t keep the Ducks at bay and it was a tied game with 1:46 to play after Hampus Lindholm squeezed a shot past Lundqvist.
Overtime – The New York Rangers had the puck for most of overtime, although they couldn’t find a way past John Gibson.
Adam Fox waltzed all the way up the ice as he was left with plenty of open space to attack, but he couldn’t force the puck past Gibson.
Mika Zibanejad pulled off a filthy move to deke a defenseman before unleashing a shot on goal, only to be denied by the Anaheim goalie with the game going to a shootout.
Shootout – Artemi Panarin went first but he couldn’t beat John Gibson, while Henrik Lundqvist executed a pokecheck to prevent his fellow countryman Rickard Rakell from scoring.
It was then Mika Zibanejad’s turn and, as he had done all night, the forward got the job done to give the Rangers the lead in the shootout.
Lundqvist made another save to thwart Max Comtois before Tony DeAngelo was also denied, while Ondrej Kase beat Lundqvist.
The Rangers needed Kaapo Kakko to convert on his effort but he couldn’t, and that allowed Jakob Silfverberg to score the game winner.
Let’s look at some notes from the game…