ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The New York Rangers see their three-game California road trip as a chance to learn how they measure up against the NHL’s best teams.
The defending Eastern Conference champions got off to a soaring start on the West Coast.
Rick Nash scored his 25th goal, Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves and the Rangers beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Wednesday night for their 11th victory in 12 games.
Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Dominic Moore also scored for the Rangers, who produced a dominant effort against the overall NHL leaders.
“It’s huge. We talked about it for the last couple of days,” Nash said. “We had three days off, so we talked about challenging ourselves and using this game as a measuring stick of where we’re at. So it’s a huge win for us. We’re playing our style and we’re not hurting ourselves.”
New York prepared for its Thursday night Stanley Cup finals rematch with the Los Angeles Kings by controlling its matchup with the Ducks, who had won four of the clubs’ last five meetings.
The Rangers have been the NHL’s best defensive team over the past month, and Lundqvist combined with his defense to limit Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to one power-play assist apiece.
“I think it’s good for our confidence to know that we can play a really strong game against the best teams in the league,” Lundqvist said. “Anaheim is very consistent, and that’s why they’re up there. They obviously have a lot of skill.”
Francois Beauchemin scored a power-play goal midway through the third period for the Ducks, who have just one regulation victory in eight games. Beauchemin and defenseman Sami Vatanen committed turnovers that led directly to New York goals.
“We made some bad turnovers, there’s no doubt,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We gave them two goals, but they’re a really good team. … Their speed is very good. The structure of their game is very good. They’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 26 shots in his first home start in more than seven years for the Ducks, who re-signed their former backup goalie last month after a seven-year absence.
After a scoreless first period, Brassard scored in his third straight game following a nine-game goal drought.
Nash scored early in the third period by swatting home the rebound of Kevin Klein’s shot from the slot. The power forward has secured the 10th 25-goal season of his career with more than half of the Rangers’ schedule still to play.
Anaheim scored 10 seconds into a power play when Beauchemin’s big shot from the blue line beat a partially screened Lundqvist. Beauchemin has three goals in five games after a 24-game drought, dating to last season.
But Beauchemin gave away the puck moments later to Zuccarello, who beat Bryzgalov for his first goal in 10 games. Moore added an empty-net goal.
“We’re a solid team when we play our best, and it’s hard to play against us,” Zuccarello said. “There was really bad ice out there tonight, so you kind of had to just play it safety-first.”
Bryzgalov was largely solid in a game that brought his career full circle. The Russian goalie was drafted by the Ducks in 2000 and came up through the organization, eventually backing up Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Anaheim’s Stanley Cup championship team in 2007.
Bryzgalov hadn’t made a home start for the Ducks since Nov. 7, 2007, shortly before he was waived.
“I battled hard,” said Bryzgalov, who played for four teams in the past seven seasons. “Compared to the last game I played, it was much better. I know what I’m capable to do.”
NOTES: The Rangers scored first for the 10th time in 11 games. … D John Moore replaced Matt Hunwick in the New York lineup. … Devante Smith-Pelly returned to Anaheim’s lineup after one game as a healthy scratch. He hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games since Dec. 1.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.