In an attempt to solve the defensive woes, Randy Carlyle switched the pairings to start the game. Lindholm was paired with Montour while Manson lined up next to Theodore. That looks amazing. Sadly putting Fowler with Bieksa is not. Even though it has visually and statistically proved to be a poor choice, #2 and #4 always seem to end up back with one another.
Anaheim came out flying (not literally since they’re much slower compared to the Rangers) in the first few minutes and had the first five shots of the game. The third line was able to trap New York in their zone. A few shifts later the Rangers got their first shot on goal, and unfortunately it got past John Gibson. New York instantly took advantage of the Fowler-Bieksa pairing and a defensive miscue. Oscar Lindberg was left all alone in front of the crease and tapped home a pass from behind the net. The goal at 4:01 made the score 1-0.
The Ducks managed to get 16 shots on Henrik Lundqvist compared to New York’s 6 in the first frame. That is the same amount they got in the entire Tampa Bay game. However, many of Anaheim’s attempts came from low-percentage scoring areas.
The Fowler-Bieksa combination has zero chemistry. Fowler consistently pinched on Bieksa’s side to cover for his soft pressure. Only 1:06 into the period, Mats Zuccarello was able to shift to a soft spot on the ice created by Fowler’s reaction and scored into a wide open net. 2-0 New York.
Jakob Silfverberg cut the score to 2-1 at 6:14. The Rangers managed to turn the puck over behind their net right to Cogliano. The winger quickly passed the puck to Silfverberg who was skating alone into the low slot. The Swede snapped the puck past Lundqvist for his 16th of the year.
This game wouldn’t be close without John Gibson. The Anaheim goaltender made two key stops before Silfverberg cut the lead in half. First he made a windmill glove save on a Grabner breakaway and then quelled a 2v1 with a lunging blocker save after a defensive turnover soon after.
Anaheim finished the period on a four-minute power play but was unable to get anything past The King. In fact, New York had the most dangerous chance in that time. On another 2v1, the Ranger forward had Gibson beat but put the puck through the other side of the crease.
The Ducks may have forgotten that Gibson cannot stop everything. While on 4v4, Lindholm and Getzlaf got crossed up in the defensive zone and sent Michael Grabner in for a dangerous scoring chance. The speedy winger sniped the top corner and extended the lead to 3-1 for New York.
Although Anaheim finished with 44 shots, none seemed to test Lundvqvist very much at all. Still the veteran goaltender was able to manage the game extremely well. On the surface, New York’s 20 shots on goal may look like a win for the Anaheim defense, but a majority of those were dangerous chances. The Anaheim defensive scheme had no answer for their speed.
Anaheim fell by the score of 4-1 after Grabner’s second goal of the game. The empty net goal was a sour, yet expected, end to the night. The Ducks will be back in action Thursday in Buffalo against the Sabres.