NEW YORK – The Ducks could have gone one of two ways after a poor showing in their last game.
A) Tighten up and eliminate (most) of their mistakes. B) Show that the lessons from their loss on Saturday versus the New York Islanders failed to take hold.
Actually, there was a third option – and that was the one the Ducks settled upon on Monday night. There was improvement in some areas – just not enough – as the New York Rangers defeated the Ducks 6-4 at Madison Square Garden.
“When they scored, it was a few individual mistakes,” Ducks defenseman John Klingberg said. “From my end as well. That’s got to get cleaned up. Mistakes happen in the game all the time, but you’ve just got to move on and get ready for the next shift.
“We can be a lot better than this as well. You’ve got to be able to read the momentum in the game and that’s where we’ve got to learn. That’s where one of my mistakes happened as well.”
For the Rangers, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad combined for eight points – Zibanejad scored twice and added two assists, while Panarin had a goal and three assists. Defenseman Adam Fox had three assists. The Rangers have scored 17 goals in four games.
“I thought we were in the game and then their one power-play goal was a gift, absolute missed responsibility,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “In the second period, we gave them two gifts, absolute gifts. So we give them three easy ones and lose by two.
“That’s what’s disappointing because there was improvement in our game in a number of areas and then it all gets blown apart by missed responsibilities and the ones that happened are highly uncommon with the individuals.”
Scoring for the Ducks were Frank Vatrano, Trevor Zegras, Max Comtois and Derek Grant. Troy Terry had two assists, giving him points in all three games this season. Rookie forward Pavol Regenda added two assists, the first points of his NHL career.
While this wasn’t a repeat of the messy game against the Islanders – a 7-1 loss – it had too many similarities. Eakins pulled goaltender John Gibson after two periods just like he did Saturday, bringing on Anthony Stolarz in relief.
This time it went beyond a mercy pull with Eakins saying there was “something going on” with Gibson’s body.” It looked like it might have happened when Gibson took a Zibanejad shot up high in the shoulder region in the second period.
Gibson has faced 109 shots in three games, including 34 on Monday.
Eakins added, “Just with the score and where it was at, we didn’t think it was a real intelligent move to throw him back in there. He thought if it settled down, he might be able to go back in. We’ll reassess that here when I see the athletic trainers.”
The Ducks have allowed six power-play goals in three games, and three to the Rangers. Two came in the first 13:10 as the Ducks were outshot 9-2 in that span, and the Rangers added one more in the third period. New York went three for four on the power play.
“Most of all right now, we need to stay out of the box,” Terry said. “Especially against a team like this. We’re getting one power play a game and we’re giving them four or five. It’s not a recipe to win in this league. And it’s not fair to John Gibson. He’s been our backbone. He’s been keeping us in the games. The season should look worse than it does, if it weren’t for him.”
There was a brief push from the Ducks starting late in the first-period goal – a snipe from Vatrano and a breakaway by Zegras at 1:34 of the second period, tying it 2-2. Comtois and Grant scored in the third period to make the scoreline look a bit more forgiving.
“I didn’t think it was all bad,” Terry said. “We’ve played three games now. It’s not a panic time. We’re 1-2. That’s a good hockey team and we paid the price for some big mistakes.”