By Larry Fleisher
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
NEW YORK (Ticker) -- The New York Rangers often hear boos from
their home crowd when their power play fails. When it produces
timely goals, they get the opposite reaction.
Scott Gomez scored his first power-play goal of the season with
7:21 remaining in the third period as the Rangers squandered a
pair of leads before posting a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim
Ducks on Tuesday.
Markus Naslund converted a man-advantage chance in the first
period and Fredrik Sjostrom netted a shorthanded tally early in
the second for New York, which improved to 4-1-1 in its last six
"Really important," Rangers coach Tom Renney said of his team's
man-advantage unit. "The power play has got to click. It's a
great way to wrap up when your power play gets the job done."
Penalty-killer Blair Betts added a shorthanded empty-netter in
the final minute for the Rangers, who reclaimed the lead in the
Atlantic Division, passing the idle New Jersey Devils.
Bobby Ryan scored a power-play goal in the opening period and
Corey Perry tallied late in the second for the Ducks, who fell
to 1-2-0 on their current five-game road trip.
"You've got to win the special-teams battles," Anaheim coach
Randy Carlyle said. "They scored a power-play goal, and then we
were in a situation with a 6-on-4 and we tried to make a 1-on-1
play at the blue line, and that's not the right time or the
right situation to try and make those plays."
Naslund's goal came on New York's first power play of the night,
and the Rangers failed to score on their next five.
"It was weird because it didn't look good," Rangers All-Star
goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said of the power play. "We were
struggling on the power play and we still scored two goals. If
you score two goals on the power play, I think you have to be
pleased with it.
"A lot of parts, we were really struggling and had a tough time
even getting it in the zone. Those two goals, it's not like
they were not really sharp. That's what happens a lot of times.
You can't even get it in the zone, and then suddenly, you make a
couple of plays."
They finally struck again when Naslund backhanded the puck
through the crease to Gomez. Stationed on the doorstep, Gomez
finished the play by putting a backhander over goaltender Jonas
Hiller's left pad.
"I got a little lucky, let's not get crazy," Gomez said. "I
poked that one through. That was all Markus."
While Gomez netted his first power-play tally since March 14,
the Ducks were disappointed in letting it happen.
"It was a 1-on-1 in front of the slot," Hiller said. "I don't
know if he lost the puck. It went right on Gomez's stick and he
had an empty net."
"Those are the plays right now that are going against us,"
Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger added. "It starts out a
nothing play. Maybe I should have forced it on the wall. When
it goes to (Nikolai) Zherdev, I get caught on the wrong side and
he gets the puck."
Gomez's tally was his first in seven games, and it continued the
trend of New York producing timely power-play goals. In their
last three victories, the Rangers are 5-for-14 with the extra
skater, including Nigel Dawes' game-winner last week against the
New York Islanders on January 13 and captain Chris Drury's
overtime tally in Chicago on Friday.
"They've come at big times and big moments in the game, and
that's what's going to make the difference for us down the
stretch," Drury said.
Entering with the NHL's fourth-worst power-play unit, New York
scored more than one man-advantage goal for the seventh time
this season. It will take a 28-16-4 record into the All-Star
Lundqvist made 32 saves and preserved the tie by making nice
stops on Perry and Drew Miller. He maintained New York's third
one-goal lead of the night by denying Brendan Morrison with just
over two minutes remaining.
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi received a delay-of-game penalty
with 1:57 remaining, and the Ducks pulled Hiller - who stopped
26 shots - for an extra attacker in the final minute to create a
two-man advantage but could not get the equalizer.