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Red-hot Rangers shut down Ducks

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers erased any close-game opportunity for the Anaheim Ducks.

Lundqvist made 24 saves and Derick Brassard,Rick Nash,Mats Zuccarello and Dominic Moore scored in a 4-1 victory against Anaheim at Honda Center on Wednesday. The Rangers (22-11-4) began a three-game, four-day California trip with a win against the top team in the overall NHL standings and are 11-1-0 in their past 12 games.

"We've talked about it for the last couple of days," Nash said. "We've been talking about challenging ourselves and kind of getting a good measuring stick of where we're at. It's a huge win for us."

Said Lundqvist," I think it's good for our confidence to know that we can play a strong game against the best teams in the League."

The Ducks (26-10-6) pride themselves on tight wins; they are an NHL-best 20-0-6 in one-goal games. But that didn't statistic didn't matter after Zuccarello made it 3-1 with a goal off defenseman Francois Beauchemin's giveaway with 5:32 left. Moore hit the empty net with 2:14 remaining.

Anaheim pulled to 2-1 on Beauchemin's power-play goal at 10:09 of the third with Derek Stepan serving a delay-of-game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. His long slap shot might have been deflected by New York forward Carl Hagelin; it was one of the few miscues by a tight Rangers defense that kept Anaheim in check for most of the night.

The Rangers blocked 19 shots and forced Anaheim into 24 that missed the net.

"They're a physical team," Lundqvist said. "They've got a lot of big guys who cut in front of the net. They made it pretty tough to see the puck at times. But again, we're played with a lot of poise and confidence right now and making a lot of smart moves out there. We showed some patience. This game, it's a tight game. You can't force anything. The way we responded after their goal, that's impressive to see … it just killed their momentum."

Nash made it 2-0 when he tipped in a shot by defenseman Kevin Klein at 2:32 of the third after Klein intercepted a clearing attempt by Ducks defensemanSami Vatanen in the high slot. The puck hit the shoulder of Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and fluttered into the net.

Brassard opened the scoring when he beat Bryzgalov with a slap shot from the left circle at 9:10 of the second period during a delayed penalty. It extended his goal-scoring streak to three games.

Bryzgalov was otherwise sharp in his second start with Anaheim since his free-agent signing Dec. 9. He had 18 saves through two periods and 26 overall.

"I battled hard," said Bryzgalov, who made his first home start for the Ducks since Game 2 of their 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinal Series. "Compared to the last game I played in Ottawa, it was much better."

Asked about making a case for the backup role, Bryzgalov said, ""I know what I'm capable [of doing]. Today's a game that was much better than the last one. The next one I hope is going to be better and better and better. Right now it's time to play [and get] in game shape."

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau mostly liked Bryzgalov's game and said the Rangers, who have outscored opponents 43-18 in regulation and overtime since Dec. 6, were as good as advertised.

"Their speed is very good," Boudreau said. "The structure of their game is very good. You can see when we made it 2-1, we put a push on for one shift and they sort of got re-acclimated and then they just grinded it down until they got that next goal. They're going to be a tough team to beat."

The Rangers got their first win in Anaheim since Dec. 16, 2008. They have won road games against Anaheim, the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks in the same season for the first time in franchise history. They continue their California trip Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, the team that beat them in the Stanley Cup Final last spring.

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