ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Rangers didn’t sign Jarred Tinordi to score goals.
But the 6-6, 232-pound defenseman — playing for the first time since Nov. 21 — scored a huge one in the third period against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night, breaking a tie and helping the Rangers beat the Ducks, 4-1, at the Honda Center. That evened their record on this five-game road trip at 1-1.
Tinordi, who has spent time with AHL Hartford on a conditioning stint and has battled COVID-19, was playing in only his sixth game of the season. He went into the game with a pretty basic mindset: Do whatever the team needs of him.
"I just keep it simple,’’ he said at the morning skate when asked how it would be for him to play his first game in a month and a half. "When you haven’t been in in a while, I think it’s just a mindset, really. I mean, these [trainers] do a great job. My body’s ready to go. It’s really just a mindset to keep it simple [and] do what you can to help the team.’’
On Saturday, that meant scoring his first goal as a Ranger and his second NHL goal in 108 games. He got it by flinging a shot from the left point that looked as if it deflected off something and got by Anaheim goalie Anthony Stolarz at 1:46 of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie.
Defenseman Ryan Lindgren scored an insurance goal at 10:02, right after a Rangers power play expired, to make it 3-1. Lindgren added an empty-net goal with 30.4 seconds left for his first two-goal game.
When was the last time Lindgren scored two goals in a game? "I probably have to go back to when I was at Shattuck St. Mary’s [high school], I would imagine,’’ he said. "Probably not college or AHL. So it’s been a while for sure.’’
The other Rangers enjoyed seeing Tinordi and Lindgren record rare goals. "They couldn’t be happier on the bench,’’ Gerard Gallant said. "When guys like that score goals, it’s a huge lift for your team, and they’re real happy for Tinner and Lindy.’’
The Rangers (23-9-4) were playing without leading scorer Artemi Panarin for the fourth straight game, as he remained in COVID-19 protocol. With Ryan Reaves joining Panarin, goalie Igor Shesterkin and forward Julien Gauthier in protocol, Gallant was forced to dress three forwards who were called up from Hartford last month. Tim Gettinger, Morgan Barron and Jonny Brodzinski played together as the fourth line. Barron got an assist on Lindgren’s first goal, the first of his NHL career.
"It’s part of the game,’’ Gallant said. "I mean, we’d love to have our full lineup, [but it’s] not going to happen. So they’ll come up here, they’ll get a chance to play . . . It’s an opportunity for them to take it and play real well and do the best they can.’’
Mika Zibanejad said of the five changes to the lineup (Tinordi and Nils Lundkvist on defense, Barron, Gettinger and Brodzinski at forward): "With the situation that we’re in right now, with the testing . . . You never know who’s going to show up [COVID] positive and whatnot. You’ve just got to be ready. And credit to the guys that came in. It’s not an easy situation. And I thought that line with Barron, [Gettinger] and [Brodzinski] was really good. And big up to them for playing the way they did. They were a big part of the win.’’
Anaheim opened the scoring at 11:08 of the second period. K’Andre Miller whiffed on an attempt to pass the puck from down by the goal line and Anaheim’s Troy Terry passed to Isac Lundestrom, who banged it in past Alexandar Georgiev.
The Rangers tied it on a goal by Zibanejad that was created by some good work by Kaapo Kakko. Kakko tried to tip a shot by Jacob Trouba, then retrieved the puck behind the net and passed to Zibanejad near the left-wing goalpost. Zibanejad, from a bad angle, misfired on his shot, but the puck deflected off the stick of Anaheim’s Max Comtois and got behind Stolarz at 14:00.
It was Zibanejad’s 12th goal of the season and his fourth in the last four games.
The Rangers allowed only three shots on goal in the third period and 14 overall.
"We played a real good, solid all-around hockey game, and that’s what we need,’’ Gallant said. "But I really didn’t pay attention to their shots. I was more interested in our shots, and we got a lot more rubber to the net [40 shots on goal] than we had in the past. So I’m pretty happy with that.’’