Andrew Cogliano let loose with a wrister that sailed past Henrik Lundqvist’s glove, and with it, the All-Star goalie’s night was over after facing just seven shots in more than 16 minutes in net.
The Ducks still had a short-handed goal left in them for their best first period of the season, and those four goals propelled them to a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday before 16,763 at Honda Center.
Clearly, coach Randy Carlyle’s lineup tinkering paid dividends, with Corey Perry sliding down to the No. 4 line from his usual spot on the top unit, and each trio of forwards represented a different look following Sunday’s 6-2 loss to San Jose. The result was the Ducks’ highest-scoring performance since Oct. 24, as they improved to 3-1 on their five-game homestand.
“We’re trying to spark something,” said Perry, who scored a power-play breakaway goal in the opening period. “Goals have been tough to come by lately.”
They sure seemed to come easily against the Rangers. J.T. Brown’s first goal as a Duck, a short-side wrister through Lundqvist’s right armpit, opened the scoring and Ryan Getzlaf’s empty netter concluded it.
The Ducks also got a goal from Adam Henrique, riding a four-game point streak, on a short-handed breakaway in a tipsy-turvy opening period that featured two in-close scores from Rangers power forward Rick Nash.
“That team over there is playing with some desperation, as are we, so it was kind of a crazy first period,” said defenseman Cam Fowler, who posted his first multi-assist game of the season. “You don’t really see that very often. ... [Nash is] a pretty good player. He had his legs moving, he was aggressive and he’s a big load to handle in front of the net.
“I got tied up there and just couldn’t get down on his stick but we were able to weather the storm after that.”
The speedy Michael Grabner scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway in the second period after Getzlaf fell while handling the point pass, and it appeared the Ducks might have to weather a furious comeback.
Rickard Rakell’s rebound power-play goal in the opening minutes of the final period seemed to deflate the Rangers’ spirits, and despite a 44 to 31 edge in shots for New York, the Ducks cruised to victory over the final 20.
The victory was much-needed — for confidence as much as points in the standings — after the Ducks were beaten down by the Sharks in a lousy performance that sent the team soul-searching.
Ondrej Kase replaced Perry on the top line, Brown was moved up to the No. 2 trio and Jakob Silfverberg shifted to the third combination of forwards.
“We knew we had to work hard coming into this game,” Brown said. “It’s two big points for us here, and obviously it started with working hard. There’s still things that we can clean up, but at the end of the day, we got the job done.”
Far more work remains with the Ducks still sitting outside the playoffs as they jockey for position with seven other squads. A rout of the Rangers is a nice start, but sooner or later, they need to string some wins together and create some separation.
They limited the penalties to Carlyle’s goal of three, and enjoyed twice as many power-play opportunities. And if they can continue to chase goaltenders the caliber of Lundqvist, or at least make life hell for them, the Ducks won’t be attempting to secure a playoff spot for long.