NEW YORK -- The kid who grew up in the area and had at least 30 friends and family in the building scripted a storybook ending Monday night.
New York native Kyle Palmieri scored the game-winning goal as the Anaheim Ducks beat the New York Rangers 2-1 at Madison Square Garden to wrap up a 5-2-1 road trip. Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to improve his record to 4-0-0 since being called up from the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League on Oct. 18. Corey Perry also scored for Anaheim.
"It was nice. I had a lot of family and friends here," Palmieri said. "People that supported me on my way up and throughout my career. It was nice to play in front of them."
The Rangers were riding a three-game win streak and were buoyed by the return of their captain, Ryan Callahan, who missed seven games after breaking his thumb on Oct. 16. But it was the Ducks who came out firing in the opening moments of the game.
Derick Brassard's attempted pass to defenseman Dan Girardi bounced straight to Luca Sbisa, whose slap shot deflected to Dustin Penner. Penner's shot was partially blocked, but the puck found Perry right on the doorstep. After his initial shot was stopped by Lundqvist, the All-Star wing put in the rebound to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead 2:29 into the game.
"Dustin threw it at the net and I was just sitting there on the doorstep," Perry said. "I had a couple of whacks at it and finally the second or third one went in."
The previous time the Rangers played the Ducks on Oct. 10, they trailed 3-0 just 11:36 into the game on their way to a demoralizing 6-0 loss. New York had no intention of repeating that performance, especially in front of the hometown fans.
The Rangers outshot Anaheim 10-6 in the first period, but Andersen seemed to have an answer much of the night. At 7:43, Del Zotto snapped a quick shot from the right corner that was kicked out by Andersen. The 24-year-old Dane had to be sharp again 19 seconds later, when John Moore's shot from the point bounced behind the net and right to Brad Richards at the tip of the crease. With little time to spare, Andersen slid across the blue ice and made the save.
"I came in pretty focused in the first period," Andersen said. "You just do what you can to keep your mind set on things you can control and making saves."
Anaheim would thank him for his efforts 67 seconds later, with the local kid doing the honors.
Francois Beauchemin intercepted a pass from Richards before skating into the Rangers zone and making a perfect cross-ice pass to Palmieri. The Ducks wing, who was born in Smithtown, N.Y., before moving to Montvale, N.J., dragged the puck just past Marc Staal's outstretched stick before wiring a perfect shot over Lundqvist's right shoulder to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead with 10:51 left in the first.
"He gets that shot going and it's as good as any release in the League," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Anaheim appeared to lose a step in the second. The Rangers outshot the Ducks 15-6 in the second, but their best opportunity didn't come until late. With 1:43 left in the period, Carl Hagelin wrestled the puck away from Beauchemin behind the Ducks net before feeding a streaking Richards. Andersen stopped the quick shot with his blocker, but the chance energized the Rangers.
Moments later, Del Zotto found a loose puck through a wild scrum in the Anaheim crease and netted his first goal of the season with 84 seconds remaining in the middle period. The play began with Callahan taking the puck hard to the net before four different Ducks collapsed around the goal. The puck slid out to Del Zotto, who made no mistake.
"It was just a loose puck in front. It was kind of a disaster in there," Del Zotto said. "There were four or five bodies and I jumped in and got lucky. It bounced right onto my stick."
The Rangers may have seized momentum and energized the hometown crowd, but Boudreau rallied his troops during the intermission.
"When they scored, it was at the end of the period," Boudreau said. "So when we came in, we just said 'OK, we have to regroup. We didn't do a great job. Let's go out for 20 minutes and work real hard and see where it takes us.'"
That hard work paid off early in the third. The Ducks dominated possession in the first half of the final period and Lundqvist was forced to stretch his right leg to make a big save 6:59 into the third off Rickard Rackell's deflected shot from the slot. Penner had a prime chance 1:35 later, when he stole the puck from a backpedaling Girardi before putting a hard shot off the right post.
Anaheim controlled play for much of the final 20 minutes, but the ice tilted in the second half of the third. The Rangers began to storm the Ducks net, but Andersen stopped McDonagh on back-to-back chances from the slot with six minutes remaining before denying Pouliot 43 seconds later.
After being sprung on the play by a nice pass from Brassard, Pouliot couldn't beat Andersen to the backhand. But, he did draw a hooking penalty to Bryan Allen. The stage appeared to be set for an exciting finish when Getzlaf was sent off for slashing with 10 seconds remaining in the Allen minor. Unfortunately for the Rangers, the 5-on-3 wouldn't last long.
Lundqvist was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:55 left in regulation and Getzlaf still in the box. But any hope for a comeback was dashed when Pouliot took a high-sticking penalty with 1:51 remaining. A too-many-men minor to the Rangers with 49 seconds to go iced the win for the Ducks (12-3-1), who return to Honda Center to play the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday.
For the Rangers, it was a final example of mistakes coming back to haunt them.
"It's definitely a lesson for all of us that you have to be so careful with the puck, especially when you play top teams and their top lines," Lundqvist said. "They're so fast at turning mistakes into scoring chances. That's why they're a top team."
The Ducks enjoyed a 5-on-3 of their own in the closing second against the Rangers (6-8-0), who host the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday. But with the game all-but-decided, they were content to simply kill off the clock.
"I didn't even want to shoot the puck. I just wanted them to pass it around," said Boudreau, who lauded the play of his goaltender. "He just stood in there and he did his job."
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