Poor defense costs Ducks in 4-1 loss to Rangers

Poor defense costs Ducks in 4-1 loss to Rangers
Ryan Getzlaf tries to break from New York forward Chris Kreider during the Ducks' 4-1 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday at Honda Center. (Harry How / Getty Images)

Ilya Bryzgalov set out Wednesday night to show he could be the backup goalie the Ducks can count on.

If only he could've counted on his defensemen's passing skills.


The New York Rangers converted third-period turnovers by defensemen Sami Vatanen and Francois Beauchemin into goals, adding an empty-net goal to beat the Ducks, 4-1, at Honda Center.

"It was a tough one to give, with us pushing to get the tying goal. ... that is pretty frustrating, but that was pretty much the story of the game – that our execution level wasn't very high," Beauchemin said of a miscue that followed his goal more than four minutes earlier.

Forward Mats Zuccarello took the turnover and squeezed a shot between Bryzgalov's left shoulder and the post for a 3-1 lead with 5 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the third period.

"Our guys played well, sometimes the puck flips over a stick or bounces wrong and forwards put on good pressure," Bryzgalov said after a 26-save showing. "It's a game. I know what I'm capable of. Today's game was much better than the last one. Next, I hope, will be better. And better. And better."

The Ducks need that after they watched veteran goalie Jonas Hiller fade following a heavy midseason workload last season, and have watched starting goalie Frederik Andersen play in 26 of 27 games before the meeting with the Rangers.

The Rangers rode a 24-save effort from their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist.

Anaheim was out-matched by the goaltender nicknamed "King," but the Ducks took solace in Bryzgalov's showing.

"He definitely wasn't the reason that we ended up losing the game," Coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Nearly three weeks after the in-season, free-agent pickup debuted for the Ducks and was overwhelmed in a 6-2 loss at Ottawa on Dec. 19, Bryzgalov kept New York scoreless until midway through the second period when forward Derick Brassard blasted a shot low to Bryzgalov's left to the net.

Further deflating to the Ducks was an early third-period goal by New York's leading scorer, Rick Nash, who notched his 25th goal by banging in a shot from teammate Kevin Klein that bounced off Bryzgalov's chest.

Klein had gathered a Vatanen turnover.

"Bad play for me, I can never put the puck in the middle like that; game-winning goal," Vatanen said. "I thought [Bryzgalov] played a pretty good game."

Lundqvist appeared on his way to his sixth shutout of the season until the Rangers committed consecutive penalties, a Derek Stepan delay-of-game miscue leading to a long-distance blast by Beauchemin that beat Lundqvist high to his right with 9:51 left in the third period.

Lundqvist has won 11 of 12 starts.

The mystery was how Bryzgalov would do after being left on the bench since his Dec. 19 debacle of a season debut in Ottawa, when he gave up six goals in a loss.

Bryzgalov said he spent the time conditioning, listening diligently to the lessons of goalie coach Dwayne Roloson and returning to shape after admitting he wasn't ready for the earlier hurried return.

Making his first home start in Anaheim since Nov. 7, 2007, Bryzgalov stopped 11 first-period shots.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire