The Rangers were coming off a game in which they hung their heads afterward and admitted they’d played terrible hockey. So they didn’t care that the Anaheim Ducks were missing their top three scorers because of injury or illness on Sunday and had played an overtime game a day earlier on Long Island.
“No, it’s all about us, we feel like,’’ defenseman Brady Skjei said after the Rangers dispatched the Ducks, 5-1, at Madison Square Garden. “We played a bad game last game [a 6-3 loss to Toronto on Friday], and today we were hungry and you know we wanted to, obviously, put forward a good effort.’’
And they did, outshooting Anaheim 41-20 while ending their losing streak at three games.
Chris Kreider scored twice, Mika Zibanejad had a shorthanded goal and Filip Chytil, 20, and Brett Howden, 21, also scored.
“Obviously, [the Ducks were] depleted . . . They played yesterday, and they played hard,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said. “It’s just one of those nights where we were in a situation where we seemed to have a lot of energy and we were a little bit [upset] about what happened against Toronto. And I thought we came with a purpose tonight, right from the get-go. I really liked how we managed the game as the game evolved.’’
Chytil opened the scoring at 7:14 of the first period with his ninth goal, a brilliant backhander over the glove of goaltender Ryan Miller on a breakaway.
The speed Chytil displayed on the goal seemed to lift the Rangers, who brought a 3-1 lead and an 18-6 shots-on-goal advantage into the first intermission.
“That was a sick move,’’ said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who had 19 saves in his first win since Nov. 27. “He’s skilled. He’s so skilled, and I think this year, he’s taken a big step as a player, and just stronger on the puck, more confident, and he’s making a lot of good plays. But he can also just personally take it to the net and make a play like that. So he’s growing into a big, big player for us here.’’
Howden, liberated from the fourth line because of the lower-body injury that forced Kaapo Kakko out of the lineup, made it 2-0 at 8:45 with his fourth goal, banging in the rebound of Tony DeAngelo’s shot.
“It’s really nice to get that goal, but I think just the way we were playing, everybody felt good about their game today,’’ Howden said. “There was just a good mindset going into the game, and you know we played well for 60 full minutes.’’
Anaheim, which played without its entire first line of Ryan Getzlaf, Jacob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell (all tied for the team lead with 25 points), got on the board on Sam Steel’s goal at 9:58. That pulled the Ducks within 2-1.
Kreider scored his first in a four-on-four situation with Ryan Lindgren and Anaheim’s Max Comtois off for coincidental roughing penalties. Kreider stole the puck from Josh Manson at the Rangers’ blue line and powered his way into a breakaway before scoring on a backhander at 12:16 to make it 3-1.
His second goal, a redirection of Zibanejad’s feed at 16:09 of the second period, made it 4-1.
Zibanejad added a shorthanded goal, firing a shot off Miller from a sharp angle at 1:16 of the third period with Brendan Lemieux in the penalty box for roughing.
The Rangers will close out the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule Monday night against the Flyers in Philadelphia.