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What we learned from the Ducks' 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers

Five takeaways from the Ducks' 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers

The Ducks faced one of the NHL’s elite goalies Wednesday, a challenge they knew afforded them little margin for error.

Which, of course, made mistakes all the more pivotal in a 4-1 loss to the returning Stanley Cup finalists New York Rangers and goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

While Lundqvist stopped 24 of 25 shots and was just 9 minutes, 51 seconds from his sixth shutout of the season, the Ducks committed 13 giveaways, with two quickly transformed into third-period goals by Rangers Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello.

“We made some bad turnovers, there was no doubt,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We gave them two goals. They're a really good team. They deserved to win and played better than us. When we had chances, we just didn't bury them.”

Takeaway No. 1: Backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov deserves another start.

Honestly, that didn’t appear to be such a given after the veteran was beaten badly, 6-2, in Ottawa on Dec. 19.

But Bryzgalov worked hard, got himself into NHL shape after being signed from free-agent limbo last month, and was attentive to the lessons of goalie coach Dwayne Roloson.

Defensemen Sami Vatanen and Francois Beauchemin jumped on the sword for their third-period turnovers, and Bryzgalov took the high road to excuse the miscues.

The Ducks are pleased with the minor-league work of 21-year-old goalie John Gibson, and could aim to bring him back up as the schedule increases next month.

But they’ve also paid Bryzgalov a pro-rated contract in excess of $2 million, so there’s hope the veteran continues to find his way.

“I thought he made some really good saves,” Boudreau said. “The first goal … was iffy and they put it in between his legs. The other was a shot from the slot that Nash tipped, and the other one was right under the bar, short side. He had it completely covered, I thought. There wasn't much room for it to go in. He did what he had to do.”

The Ducks have three games in four days next week, including a back-to-back of New Jersey at Honda Center, then at the Kings.

Takeaway No. 2: Crowding the goalie is a task at hand.

Beauchemin benefited from it on his third-period goal – his third goal in five games.

The defenseman says against a quality goalie like Lundqvist, such work is imperative.

“We didn’t get those second and third opportunities in front of the net,” he said. “We need to do a better job at that. We need a guy in the crease and one in the high slot to get those rebounds, tips and tough goals.”

Takeaway No. 3: The Rangers have found their legs.

It helped having three days off before Wednesday’s meeting, but the speed and precision of New York is shining as the team moves on to Staples Center on Thursday night on a 10-1 run, encouraging the big fan base wanting a return trip to the final.

“They’re really good,” Boudreau said. “Their speed and structure of their game … they’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Takeaway No. 4: Patrick Maroon needs a goal.

The Ducks forward couldn’t find net on three shots Wednesday and missed Lundqvist entirely on another.

He’s now on a 15-game goal-less skid with 31 shots on net.

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire

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