ANAHEIM - A hot Anaheim Ducks team stayed hot tonight, winning a fourth straight game for the first time this season and catapulting into first place alone in the Pacific Division.
Patrick Eaves had a pair of goals and Ryan Getzlaf handed out four assists as the Ducks dominated the final period in an emphatic 6-3 triumph over the New York Rangers at soldout Honda Center.
"We're finding ways to win hockey games," Getzlaf said. "I didn't love the way we played in the first period, but we found a way to stay in the game and get a couple goals. When we can come out of the first period tied or better, usually we have a good chance to win."
A 3-3 tie after 40 minutes set the stage for a battle between two of the best third period teams in the NHL. The Ducks have given up an NHL-low 49 goals in the third, while New York has scored 93, second in the league. But it was the Ducks who had the upper hand in the frame, getting goals from Eaves, Andrew Cogliano and Nick Ritchie in pulling away from the Rangers.
The Ducks went in front 2:19 into the third right off a Ryan Kesler faceoff win, as he shuttled the puck off goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and Cogliano popped in the rebound.
Video: NYR@ANA: Cogliano pots a rebound off the faceoff
Anaheim made it 5-3 on the rush, and with a little luck, as Eaves didn't get all of a one-timer off a Rickard Rakell feed, but the puck deflected off defenseman Brady Skjei's skate and eluded Lundqvist. It was the 27th goal of the season and fourth in the last four games for Eaves
Video: NYR@ANA: Eaves finishes slick passing play in the 3rd
The Rangers sent Lundqvist to the bench for an extra attacker with three minutes left in the game and down two goals, and the Ducks made them pay when Ritchie skated the puck into the empty net with 1:38 left.
New York struck first tonight on a shot goalie Jonathan Bernier would like to have back, as he initially stopped Rick Nash's bid from the right wing, but the puck trickled underneath and behind him over the stripe.
Anaheim got even with 11 minutes left in the period when Eaves swept in a rebound off a Cam Fowler point shot.
Video: NYR@ANA: Eaves cashes in on a rebound in front
New York went back in front with 5 1/2 left on a pretty tic-tac-toe play on the rush that was punctuated by Derek Stepan one-timing a Chris Kreider feed.
The Ducks wiped out the lead again with two minutes left in the period on the power play when Kesler tipped a Getzlaf one-timer, and the puck fluttered over Lundqvist's shoulder.
Video: NYR@ANA: Kesler tallies PPG on tip-in from the slot
"We want to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs," Kesler said. "We have to keep getting better. Consistency is what we were missing. We had a month and a half to figure it out. Right now we're playing good, consistent hockey."
Anaheim took its first lead midway through the second period, getting a shorthanded rush off a Rangers turnover, with Getzlaf feeding Josh Manson for the goal from the slot.
Video: NYR@ANA: Manson slips shorthanded goal past Lundqvist
"Getzlaf is the guy who stirs the drink right now," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's been real strong and his offensive numbers are proving that. From a lineup standpoint, we're as comfortable as we've been all year."
The lead after the Manson goal was short-loved, as the Rangers made it 3-3 on a rush of their own, with Skjei burying a one-timer off a Jimmy Vesey pass. That gave way to Anaheim's dominant third period in which they scored three times and Bernier saved all eight Rangers shots.
"The schedule was in our favor," Carlyle said in reference to New York playing last night in LA. "When you get a team that played the night before, and we were rested, you have to take advantage of that."
With the Ducks having won eight of the last 10 and former division frontrunner San Jose having lost six in a row, the Ducks (41-23-11) moved ahead of a three-way with the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers into first place in the Pacific.
Anaheim plays its next four games on the road, starting Tuesday night at Vancouver.