ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two minutes away from closing out what would have been a fabulous West Coast road trip, the bubble burst for the Rangers.
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm scored a power play goal with 1:46 remaining in regulation to force overtime, and Jacob Silfverberg netted the winner in the fourth round of the shootout to hand the Rangers a crushing 4-3 loss that ended their four-game swing through Las Vegas and California on a down note.
“We had an opportunity to end this on a really positive note, and we ended it on a disappointing note,’’ Rangers coach David Quinn said after his team completed a 2-1-1 trip. “We wanted six points. We really did. We wanted six points. And I guess, taking five [out of a possible eight] isn’t a bad trip.’’
The Rangers were especially frustrated because they led the game after 10 seconds, led 2-0 by the four-minute mark, and led 3-2 on Mika Zibanejad’s second goal 1:14 into the third period. But their penalty kill, which had preserved a one-goal lead late in Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Sharks in San Jose, failed them this time, allowing two power play goals in three attempts. The second came when Brady Skjei was sent off for tripping with 3:11 to go, and Lindholm beat Henrik Lundqvist with a screened slap shot from the top of the slot to tie it at 3.
Zibanejad, who was denied a hat trick by a John Gibson save on his point-blank shot in overtime, was especially frustrated.
“We lost a 2-0 lead, lost a 3-2 [lead],’’ Zibanejad said. “We had a chance on the power play to kind of close it out, we don’t. They capitalize on their power play . . . This one stings.’’
Zibanejad, who scored two goals against the Sharks, had opened the scoring on the first shift of the game, capitalizing on a horrendous giveaway by Anaheim’s Josh Manson to come in on a breakaway against Gibson and score on a backhand shot. Artemi Panarin’s 19th goal of the season made it 2-0 at 3:59, but Silfverberg scored on the Ducks’ first power play at 8:53 of the first period and the Ducks were back in the game.
They tied it at 2 when Lundqvist gambled and lost as he came out of his net to challenge Adam Henrique, coming in from the left. Henrique didn’t shoot, though, and, as Lundqvist came all the way out, beyond the goal post and way out of the blue paint, Henrique threw the puck back in the middle, where Erik Gudbranson retrieved it and fired it into an empty net at 1:02 of the second period.
“When I commit to (Henrique) and he just holds on to it, I have two choices there: Let him go, and he’ll probably go around the net and get an empty net. So I have to attack him,’’ said Lundqvist, who made 39 saves. “And then when he puts it in the middle, I’m obviously way out of position.’’
In the shootout, the Rangers went first and Panarin was stopped by Gibson. Lundqvist stopped Rickard Rakell (three assists) and then Zibanejad scored to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the tiebreaker. When Lundqvist stopped Max Comtois, Tony DeAngelo had the chance to win it for the Rangers. But he was foiled by Gibson, and Ondrej Kase scored to force a fourth round. Kaapo Kakko’s shot was kicked out by Gibson, and Silfverberg scored on the next shot to win it.