It's the final home game before Christmas, as today the Ducks close out a two-game homestand against the New York Rangers at Honda Center. (1 p.m. PT, TV: Prime Ticket, Radio: AM 830). The Ducks are looking to get back into the win column following a 2-1 loss to the LA Kings on Thursday and a crucial four-game road trip on the horizon.
A win this afternoon could do a world of good for the Ducks, who have yet to string together consecutive victories since late October. With five straight games against Eastern Conference opponents beginning today, the Ducks are going to have to find ways to earn points over this stretch.
"Going into the Christmas break, it's been a point of emphasis for us," Ducks defenseman Josh Manson said, on generating momentum at this time of year. "We've been talking about trying to get on a roll here, winning some games going into the break. Carry some momentum after it. After the Christmas break, it could feel like a fresh start to the season. We want to finish off this half strong. We know that road trip won't be an easy one. Winning this last game at home is going to be crucial for us."
They're facing a Rangers team that posted six goals on the San Jose Sharks in a 6-3 win on Thursday. Artemi Panarin recorded a hat trick and Mika Zibanejad potted two goals in the third period to give New York a bounce back victory following a 3-1 loss in LA on Tuesday. Like the Ducks, it's been a while since the Rangers have won consecutive games, last doing so in late November when they reeled off three straight. The Rangers have posted a 7-3-1 record in their past 11 games and have gone 13-7-2 in their past 22. With a 16-12-3 record (35 points), the Rangers sit in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. Panarin leads the team in scoring with 41 points (18g/23a) in 31 games. The 28-year-old left wing is riding a three-game goal streak (5g/2a) and has eight points (6g/2a) in his past five.
The Ducks are facing veteran netminder Henrik Lundqvist this afternoon. The 37-year-old has posted a .920 save percentage or better in eight of his past 14 starts, and has allowed two goals or less in seven of his past 13. He earned his 455th career NHL victory on Nov. 25 vs. Minnesota, passing Curtis Joseph for sole possession of fifth place on the NHL's all-time wins list. He's posted a 7-5-1 record with a 2.61 GAA and .911 SV% in 14 career appearances against Anaheim.
"We have to find a way to win a one-goal game or a tight game because we're not putting up a lot of goals right now," said Ducks center Derek Grant. "Limiting the other team's chances and simplifying our offense. Not trying to do too much and force the issue with scoring goals. Get pucks into those areas, get guys there and bang away. Get some dirty ones. That's how we're going to have to score goals moving forward."
The Ducks have posted an 18-12-7 all-time record against the Rangers, including a 10-4-3 mark at Honda Center. They've earned points in three straight home games (2-0-1) and six of the past eight (5-2-1) dating to March 9, 2011. Ryan Getzlaf paces active Ducks in career scoring vs. New York with 20 points (3g/17a) in 20 games.