In a near identical performance and result, the Rangers followed up Tuesday's 9-2 defeat in San Jose with a 6-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night at the Honda Center. The Rangers now have dropped three of their first four games this season, and have been outscored by an aggregate 20-6 in that span.
Despite vowing to play a much more competitive game Thursday then they did on Tuesday, the Rangers surrendered three first period goals and were outshot 17-3 in the opening 20 minutes against a Ducks squad playing their home opener after starting the season with three straight games on the road. By the end of the second period the score was 6-0 and Henrik Lundqvist had already faced 30 shots.
Playing without Rick Nash, who returned to New York Wednesday after taking an elbow to the head from San Jose defenseman Brad Stuart during Tuesday's game, the Rangers were incapable of sustaining anything in the offensive zone, and they continuously tuned the puck over against relentless Anaheim pressure. Giveaways, lost battles, few scoring chances, blown defensive zone coverages---these were all key parts of the Rangers demise for a second consecutive game.
Minus Nash, head coach Alain Vigneault shuffled his forward line combinations as well as his defense pairings to start the game, but the moves had little effect on slowing the Ducks down. Jakob Silfverberg scored twice, Daniel Winnik and Dustin Penner each had a goal and an assist, and Corey Perry and Bryan Allen both contributed a pair of assists. Jonas Hiller finished with 34 saves to earn his 17th career shutout---17 of those stops came in the third period when the Rangers played their best 20 minutes since Monday's 3-1 win in Los Angeles.
Rookie forward Jesper Fast was inserted into the lineup in place of Nash, and playing on a line with Derek Stepan and Taylor Pyatt to start all three linemates were each minus-three after the first period. Fast did create a quality scoring chance for Brian Boyle in the third period with some strong board work and a slick pass, but it wasn't enough to get the Rangers on the board as Hiller made a strong pad save. Fast also set up Dominic Moore out of the penalty box late in the third for a booming slap shot which was blockered away by Hiller.
The Rangers tried to fight back--literally---in the first period, but even these attempts caused more issues than answered questions. Arron Asham fought Patrick Maroon at 5:29, but was assessed an extra minor penalty for taking his helmet off before the fight started. Then at 14:18 Derek Dorsett racked up 19 penalty minutes in his tilt with Allen---putting the Rangers shorthanded for four minutes. In one of the few bright spots on the night the Rangers bailed out both Dorsett and Asham with solid penalty kills and were a perfect 4-for-4 in that area of the game Thursday.
Things do not get any easier for the Rangers in their next game as they face the undefeated St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.