Rangers, Ducks seek to enter holiday with momentum

NHL Hockey
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The New York Rangers are trying to gain some traction in their season as they prepare to head into the NHL’s Christmas break next week.

New York hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday afternoon in the second and final meeting between the clubs.

The game is the penultimate match for the Rangers before taking four days off around Christmas. They play the rival Flyers in Philadelphia on Monday.

For now, though, most of the talk is about the Ducks — that and the hopes of putting aside a nasty 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

In that Original Six matchup — the first of three between the two sides this season — Toronto snapped a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes of play with two early third-period goals by standout forwards William Nylander and Mitchell Marner before rookie winger Ilya Mikheyev put the game away late.

Blueshirts goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (9-7-1) gave up five even-strength goals in stopping 34 of 40 shots by Toronto.

The loss dropped the Rangers to 1-3-1 in their past five, and the lone setback after regulation was a 4-3 shootout defeat to Anaheim last Saturday in the final game of their four-game road swing on the West Coast.

No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist allowed three goals in regulation to the Ducks before yielding two more in a four-round shootout.

Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg netted the game-winner against his fellow countryman by lifting a backhander over Lundqvist in the fourth round.

The loss was a disappointing one because the Rangers had a chance to go 3-1-0 on the road trip, and coupled with Friday’s letdown against the Maple Leafs, New York finds itself struggling a bit as it races toward the break.

“This league can be streaky and we don’t get a point in our last two games, all of a sudden you spiral a little bit,” said Rangers second-year coach David Quinn.

Mika Zibanejad recorded an assist against Toronto to stretch his point streak to four games (four goals, three assists).

Anaheim beat the Islanders 6-5 in a shootout on Long Island on Saturday afternoon, getting the game-deciding goal again from Silfverberg as the Ducks won the one-on-one skills test 2-1.

The backhander over the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov was Silfverberg’s second shootout winner in a week as the Ducks moved to 3-1 in the shootout this season.

Silfverberg, Adam Henrique, Max Comtois, Sam Carrick and Cam Fowler all scored goals in regulation for Anaheim, which improved to 3-5-0 in their past eight and swept the Islanders in the season series.

The previous win over the Islanders on Nov. 25 — a 3-0 shutout by John Gibson — snapped the Metropolitan Division team’s franchise-record 17-game point streak.

Gibson wasn’t as sharp on Saturday afternoon, allowing five goals on 33 shots in regulation and overtime, but he did deny Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal with the game on the line in the shootout.

Ducks coach Dallas Eakins praised his team’s offensive output against the defensive-minded Islanders.

“To be able to come into their rink and score five against a team that’s that stingy, we’ll feel pretty good about that,” said Eakins.

–Field Level Media

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