Carey, Lundqvist carry Rangers past Ducks
NEW YORK — It was another slow start for the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, as the Anaheim Ducks dominated from the start to nearly the finish.
Henrik Lundqvist and Paul Carey, however, made sure the Rangers would never trail as New York went on to its third straight victory.
Lundqvist stopped all 16 shots he faced in the first period and 39 of 40 overall, while Carey scored the first of his two goals in the finals seconds of the opening period as the Rangers handled a strong effort from the Ducks in a 4-1 victory.
Carey entered the game with two goals on the season and without a two-goal game in his career, and he left with a career night that doubled his season total.
“It’s a big night. It was a lot of fun,” said Carey, who had one goal in 32 career games before this season. “I was trying to get that third one. It’s nice to get rewarded. Our line has been playing really well and working really hard. It’s nice to see some pucks go in.”
Carey was part of a fourth line with David Desharnais, who assisted on both Carey goals, and Jimmy Vesey that looked anything like a checking line against the Ducks. Desharnais delivered a saucer pass on his backhand to a streaking Carey with 45.5 seconds left in the first period to break the scoreless tie, then found Carey again in the second period for a goal that made it 3-0.
On the first goal, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was caught flat-footed in the neutral zone and allowed Carey to slide to the front of the net unchecked.
“It was my fault, 100 percent,” Getzlaf said. “I have to move my feet in the neutral zone and I yelled at (defenseman Francois Beauchemin) at the last minute out of desperation for help. That’s not on him; that’s on me.”
The Rangers’ barrage of goals — which also included Kevin Hayes scoring 38 seconds into the second period — would not have been possible if not for Lundqvist’s brilliance in the early part of the contest.
With the game scoreless in the first period, Lundqvist denied Ducks forward Rickard Rakell on a breakaway, then stopped 10 more shots after Hayes made it 2-0, including a couple of tough deflection chances around his net, before Carey scored the Rangers’ third goal.
“That’s your job as a goalie, to be there when things are not going great,” Lundqvist said. “When your team’s rolling, usually as a goalie, you don’t have to do much. If I get to be there in the first period and make a couple of good saves, then I know it’s going to turn around. I’ve been in so many games where you play a team and they’re flying. We’re just trying to find our legs a little bit. And we did.”
Lundqvist lost his shutout bid with 5:17 remaining when Ondrej Kase beat him between the legs with a wrist shot but Michael Grabner’s 17th goal of the season less than two minutes later restored the three-goal lead after video review determined Rakell’s diving attempt to knock the puck out of mid-air occurred after the puck had crossed the goal.
While the Rangers (19-12-3) have won three straight and have been surging of late, the Ducks (14-13-8) have dropped three in a row and are scrambling to stay close to the pack in the Western Conference playoff chase.
“You look at their goals,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said, “one was from the crease, another was a goal from a guy coming off the bench. The Grabner goal was off an odd-man rush. It was a rebound he got a second opportunity on. Those are defendable goals. Because we’re in a funk right now as far as providing offense, every little mistake is huge right now.”
The Rangers have 11 goals in their past three games and have a showdown with the division-leading New Jersey Devils looming Thursday. With Lundqvist on top of his game after a tough start to the season, the Rangers are heading in the right direction.
“I feel really good,” said Lundqvist, who has a .928 save percentage in his past 18 starts. “I feel like the team is playing really well and that’s helpful. I can focus on the shooter a lot. It’s a big thing for me to commit to the shooter a lot more, feeling that support from the guys around me. I think the last month and a half I have been feeling really good.”
NOTES: Ducks D Brandon Montour was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The 23-year-old has six goals and 16 points in 33 games this season. ... Ducks D Francois Beauchemin took Montour’s place in the lineup and played 16:47. ... Rangers C Mika Zibanejad (concussion) played in his first game since Nov. 26. He had one shot in 13:32 of ice time. ... Rangers C Boo Nieves and D Steven Kampfer were scratched.