The Ducks gave it their all despite a depleted lineup, but in the end, they came up short in a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. They were without the services of three of their leading scorers - Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg - both stricken by the flu bug, and Rickard Rakell - out with an upper-body injury. All three had 25 points apiece. They joined the list of already-injured players Derek Grant (AC joint sprain), Troy Terry (broken bone beneath knee) and Nick Ritchie (MCL sprain).
They started the game with a defenseman up front, as Korbinian Holzer played the opening period on right wing alongside Isac Lundestrom and Max Comtois. But that experiment ended once the second period began, with head coach Dallas Eakins opting to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the rest of the game.
Sam Steel scored the lone goal for Anaheim, which cut a two-goal deficit in half at the 9:58 mark of the first period. It marked Steel's third goal of the season, and it was a thing of beauty as the 21-year-old center batted a puck out of mid-air past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Video: ANA@NYR: Steel smacks puck by Lundqvist
"Coming in, we didn't have excuses," said Ducks defenseman Michael Del Zotto. "We knew we were short. We were yesterday afternoon playing against one of the hottest teams in the league, and we got two points. It goes to show, with our structure, if there are injuries and sicknesses, if you play simple and play as a team, you still have a chance to win. We didn't do that today. We gifted them a couple goals. Didn't generate enough. Turnovers hurt us. All the little things you talk about every single game."
Ryan Miller got the start for the Ducks, and finished with 36 saves on 41 shots. Daniel Sprong, recalled from the San Diego Gulls, made his season debut. He finished the game with three shots in 15:38 TOI.
Filip Chytil and Brett Howden opened the scoring with goals less than two minutes apart to put the Rangers up 2-0 before Steel's goal, and Chris Kreider tacked on two unanswered tallies to cushion the lead. Mika Zibanejad added a shorthanded goal in the opening minutes of the third period to put the game out of reach.
Lundqvist finished with 19 saves.
The Ducks won't play again until Dec. 27 when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center.