ANAHEIM — Returning to the Honda Center after a six-game road trip, the Ducks started strong, faded late and were ultimately overwhelmed by the New York Rangers.
Up 2-0 after the opening period thanks to a pair of goals by Adam Henrique, The Ducks conceded a handful of finishes for the second night in a row, falling 5-2 to the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers, whose sustained pressure wore down the weary Ducks.
Efficiency was the name of the game early for the home team a day after losing 5-3 at San Jose.
Four first-period shots netted two goals for the Ducks first line featuring Henrique, Leo Carlsson and Troy Terry.
Henrique’s 13th goal of the season, 51 seconds after the puck dropped, materialized when the Rangers turned it over in the neutral zone.
Terry and Carlsson outworked two Rangers defenders along the boards. When Henrique cut undefended toward the net, Carlsson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft who returned to the Ducks lineup on Monday from a sprained knee, fed him for a backhand shot into the upper corner of the near post past goalie Igor Shesterkin.
At 15:37 of the first, the same Ducks trio combined again.
Terry skated into the Rangers zone, and dished it to his left where Carlsson immediately returned it to him in the slot. The American winger’s shot was blocked by defenseman Ryan Lindgren, but Henrique jumped on the loose puck and tipped it in.
The Ducks’ frugal performance continued to frustrate New York after the break.
The Rangers nearly got back into the game by swarming goalkeeper Lukas Dostal midway through the second period, but center Mason McTavish denied them by sweeping the puck off the goal line as it was trickling into the Ducks net.
Going 0-3 with a man advantage on Saturday night against the Kings, the Blueshirts also failed to convert their first two power-play chances on Sunday, making them 2 for their last 18 opportunities.
That was until Vincent Trocheck, assisted by Adam Fox and Chris Kreider, scored his 15th goal of the season late in the middle stanza to energize the Rangers and their contingent of fans.
Early in the third, it appeared like McTavish had not only denied the Rangers a goal but he got one himself.
However, New York head coach Peter Laviolette’s challenge overturned the call on the ice because replays showed that Gustav Lindstrom entered the zone before the puck and was offside, nullifying a 3-1 lead.
“We kind of never found our footing after that,” Ducks head coach Greg Cronin said. “After that goal was disallowed it kind of woke them up and they put the pressure on us.”
The Rangers (29-15-2, 60 points) pushed for an equalizer and dominated the pace of play for much of the third period, peppering Dostal until they got what they wanted.
Winger Will Cuylle, assisted by Jacob Trouba and K’Andre Miller, leveled the score with his eighth goal of the season at the 10:10 mark when he tipped it in.
The game was trending heavily in New York’s direction, and from that point forward they dictated the terms.
On a power play after McTavish tripped Cuylle to prevent him from going in alone against his goaltender, the Rangers immediately converted when a diagonal pass found forward Artemi Panarin unguarded at the left circle. The Russian beat Dostal on the stick side.
“That’s kinda been all year for us,” Henrique said. “A lot of penalties. So we’ve got to find a way. You’ve got to stay out of the box. Power plays are so good now, that can certainly change the momentum.”
Chris Kreider’s 22nd goal increased the Rangers advantage less than two minutes later.
Jimmy Vesey, unassisted, added New York’s fifth with an empty netter after Dostal was pulled for the last two minutes.
The Czech goalkeeper made 30 saves in his 21st appearance this season.
Across the ice, Shesterkin saved 16 shots.
The Ducks (15-30-1, 31 points) hosts Buffalo on Tuesday before returning to the road.