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Rangers explode for 7 goals in beating Ducks

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers

Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers celebrates his first-period goal against the Anaheim Ducks with his teammates at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, March 22, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

You'd have to go back to March 2 to see five goals at a Rangers game. At Madison Square Garden Sunday night, the Ducks and Blueshirts combined for five in the first 11:12.

Strange days.

The Rangers had scored just six goals in the last four games, yet against the team leading the entire NHL in points? Boom. They scored seven.

With goals from all angles, the Blueshirts downed the Ducks 7-2, their season-high game total.

The Rangers (46-18-7) have amassed 99 points with 11 games to play, tying the Ducks and the Canadiens in points atop the NHL heap and lengthening their Metropolitan Division lead over the Islanders to seven points, with two games in hand. They have three games in hand on the Western Conference-leading Ducks and two games in hand on Montreal in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

The Rangers led 3-2 after the first on goals from Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan (his first of two) and Carl Hagelin, chasing goaltender Frederik Andersen after the three scores on seven shots. Corey Perry answered with his 30th and 31st goals.

So much for tight-checking, playoff-like games.

It was the first time the Rangers had scored three goals in a period since the third period against the Islanders on Feb. 16.

Stepan's first goal was a departure from the norm. His slapper from the point through Kreider's screen at 5:43 of the first snapped an 0-for-18 drought on the power play. And he was pointless in his last 12 games.

Gibson, relieving Andersen, then stopped 10 shots in a row. But at 2:38 of the second period, J.T. Miller wired a snap shot past Gibson's glove for a 4-2 lead as Keith Yandle, without an assist in nine games since he was acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline, earned his third of the evening.

With that goal, the Rangers regained some defensive assurance and through 12:40 of the second, the Ducks had just one shot on Cam Talbot, who seemed a little shaky early in the second game of his back-to-back starts. Stepan (three points) scored his second after picking up a pass that went astray and beat Gibson at 16:01.

All that was left was to maintain their legs, and a lead, in the third after playing on Saturday in Raleigh, a game that ended in a 3-2 shootout win.

With the 5-2 lead going into the third, Jesper Fast flew to grab a loose puck behind the net and scored on a wraparound against Gibson at 6:12 and then Derick Brassard, with just one goal in 20 games, completed the scoring on a superb cross-crease pass from Mats Zuccarello.

The Ducks had scored 82 third-period goals, ranked third in the league. Talbot, who finished with 36 saves, made four in the first five minutes of the third, and Dan Girardi blocked Pat Maroon's shot in the slot. Talbot, 15-3-3 filling in for the injured Henrik Lundqvist, then robbed Perry in front, drawing a loud ovation from the Garden faithful.

The Rangers, who beat Anaheim, 4-1, at Honda Center on Jan. 7, have not lost in regulation when leading after two periods (30-0-1).

In the next six days, the Rangers face four teams in the playoff hunt. The scoring explosion, without Martin St. Louis, Kevin Klein and Lundqvist in the lineup, couldn't have come at a better time.


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