ANAHEIM - Jakob Silfverberg let out a soft sigh when asked if he expects to have a big scoring season, given his hot start. It's a tall task to fill Bobby Ryan's 30 goals and Silfverberg knows it.
But there's no denying that the main piece the Anaheim Ducks got from the trade that sent Ryan to the Ottawa Senators is making a big impression after he scored twice to highlight a 6-0 rout of the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Silfverberg's team-leading third and fourth goals came in Anaheim's home opener. He joined Teemu Selanne and Daniel Winnik as the only players in franchise history to score four goals in their first four games.
"You always want to build a lot of confidence in the beginning of the season," Silfverberg said. "To be able to do that, it helps out a lot in the games and it makes you feel more comfortable and once you feel comfortable, you always play better hockey. For me, it's been huge."
Jonas Hiller stopped 34 shots for his 17th career shutout as the Ducks improved to 3-1-0. Dampening the festivities for Anaheim was the loss of Dustin Penner and Nick Bonino to lower-body injuries and Mathieu Perrault to an upper-body injury. Coach Bruce Boudreau, without specifics, said that two of the players could have returned if it were a closer game.
Boudreau has Silfverberg on a line with Selanne and Perrault that showcases Silfverberg's strong skating, hard shot and offensive instincts. His first goal came by going to the net and his second came on a quick rip into an open net.
"He knows when to go and when to attack," Boudreau said. "He's a smart player. He's got a good hockey sense. He's an opportunist. You take his first goal, the puck hits his stick and it's off. He knows what to do with it."
There weren't many smiles in the other dressing room.
The Rangers, now 1-3-0, played their first game without star forward Rick Nash. He returned to New York to recover from a hit to the head by Brad Stuart on Tuesday that earned the veteran defenseman a three-game suspension. The Rangers have been outscored 15-2 in losses to the San Jose Sharks and the Ducks; they have five games remaining on a season-opening nine-game trip.
"Once again we weren't good enough," captain Ryan Callahan said. "I can't put my finger on one thing why. It's not acceptable.
"It's disappointing. It definitely is. I expected a little bit more out of the group after what happened in San Jose. We didn't get that."
New coach Alain Vigneault didn't have many answers, either. He is troubled by a lack of execution and pointed to an inability to make a tape-to-tape pass on the neutral zone. His team committed 10 giveaways.
"We're being tested, as a team, as a group," Vigneault said. "We're being challenged. It's up to me as the head coach to get this team to play well, and that's what I'm going to do."
The Rangers were outshot 17-3 in the first period and left the ice trailing 3-0. Vigneault had to adjust lines without Nash, and the Taylor Pyatt-Derek Stepan-Jesper Fast trio was on the ice for all three first-period goals.
Ryan Getzlaf buried Corey Perry's pass for his first goal of the season after Perry drove past Ryan McDonagh and slid the puck past a sprawled Dan Girardi at 5:06. Silfverberg scored his team-leading third goal when his swat from the slot of Selanne's pass trickled in at 9:17.
"It's really nice to see him fit right in that line with Teemu and Matt there," Hiller said of Silfverberg. "It's good for everybody. Bobby wasn't really feeling [at] home anymore here. It's always tough for somebody and it's nice to have somebody coming in who is really willing to do everything and feels welcome. It's great to see him scoring."
Winnik completed the Rangers' first-period nightmare with a shot from the top of the right circle that handcuffed Henrik Lundqvist and went in over his left shoulder at 11:36.
The Rangers struggled to take care of the puck for most of the night, and the Ducks made them pay with three more goals in the second period.
Lundqvist got caught in no-man's land trying to outrace Selanne to a loose puck. Selanne won the race and slapped a shot off the right post that Silfverberg easily put into the open net at 1:27 for a 4-0 lead.
Saku Koivu made it 5-0 at 8:11 with on a one-time finish of Winnik's pass after the Rangers turned it over on a breakout. Penner muscled his way to the net and put Perry's feed past Lundqvist at 16:15.
"You could tell guys were a little bit nervous with the puck," center Derick Brassard said. "It's kind of normal when we got beat 9-2. We're not at home right now. We're on the road … we just need to practice well tomorrow. It's not going to get any easier."