Rangers burst for seven goals in win over Anaheim Ducks

By on March 23, 2015

RANGERS 7, DUCKS 2

It’s time, after Sunday night’s ruthless 7-2 Duck hunt of Anaheim at the Garden, to start calling this team the Mighty Rangers.

Alain Vigneault’s crew returned on a back-to-back off Saturday‚Äôs ugly shootout win over terrible Carolina to level the Western Conference’s best team for a second time this season, emphatically snapping a scoring slump with a season-high scoring total to vault back atop the NHL standings.

Center Derek Stepan (two goals, assist) and defenseman Keith Yandle (three assists) notched three points apiece, and the Rangers eclipsed their goal total from the previous four games combined (six). Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Derick Brassard tallied. Even the woeful power play cashed in.

Cam Talbot made 35 saves, including a glove stop to deny Ducks forward Corey Perry a hat trick midway through the third period. Anaheim starter Frederik Andersen, meanwhile, was pulled 10:16 into the first period with the hosts up, 3-1, only to give way to John Gibson, who fared even worse.

The Rangers (46-18-7, 99 points) took the lead over Anaheim (46-21-7, 99 points) and Montreal (99 points) in the President’s Trophy race, ahead because they have 11 games remaining, versus just eight for the Ducks and nine for the Canadiens.

Vigneault’s team has opened a grueling stretch of six games in nine days with consecutive wins, and Henrik Lundqvist’s first skate with the team will be Tuesday’s morning skate at the Garden before his teammates take on the L.A. Kings. There is no set date when the King will return to games, but he’s getting close.

The Rangers led Sunday, 3-2, after an entertaining first period but took control in the second. In the middle frame, Miller scored on a whistler off the rush at 2:38, and Stepan buried his second at 16:01 to stretch the lead to 5-2 after 40 minutes.

After allowing 17 shots on Talbot in the first period, the Blueshirts smothered the Ducks to just six in the second period, including just on shot on goal in the first 13-and-a-half minutes. Mats Zuccarello (two assists) had admitted on Saturday that the Rangers were winning despite playing poorly, but Sunday night was different.

Stepan snapped a 12-game point drought and a 14-game goal drought with two points in the first period alone – first an assist on Kreider’s game-opening goal at 1:24 (first in nine games), followed by Stepan’s own power play slapper at 5:43 for a 2-1 lead with Kreider creating a screen.

Stepan’s slap shot from the point off passes from Yandle (two assists) and Rick Nash snapped an 0-for-18 power play drought through the Rangers’ previous seven games. Yandle’s first pass to Zuccarello to set up Miller’s goal in the second was exactly what Glen Sather traded for.

After nine games with just one points (a goal), Yandle erupted for three points, all assists, against one of his more familiar foes from his days in Phoenix.

The only negatives were that the referees called almost nothing, ignoring penalties left and right by both teams, and the crowd was pretty much lifeless.

This is a Rangers team playing without Kevin Klein (broken left arm), Martin St. Louis (lower-body injury) and Lundqvist, it doesn’t look like they’re missing anything right now.

All they do is win.

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