ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Kevin Klein‘s turnover in the opening minutes led to the Anaheim Ducks’ opening goal.
The veteran Rangers defenseman sure came up with an improbable way to make up for it.
Klein had the first two-goal game of his 11-year NHL career, scoring the tiebreaker with 6:41 to play in New York’s 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
The veteran defenseman played 555 regular-season games and 67 playoff games with Nashville and New York before his first two-goal performance. He won it for New York by driving the net – another unlikely development for a stay-at-home defenseman – and directing a sharp pass from J.T. Miller for the go-ahead goal.
“It’s nice, but the two points is the big thing,” Klein said. “Just to chip in, I’m happy about that.”
Klein also scored the tying goal in the second period as the Rangers got off to an auspicious start on their three-game California road trip, ending Anaheim’s two month-long home points streak.
Klein’s teammates were a bit more excited than he was about the unlikely source of their offense. They even awarded him the Broadway Hat – the unsightly black fedora worn proudly by the Rangers’ top nightly star.
“He’s such a heart-and-soul guy,” forward Dominic Moore said. “It’s really great to see him be the hero tonight.”
Antti Raanta made 22 saves in the Rangers’ second victory over Anaheim this season. New York also played a penalty-free game, leaving the Ducks without a power play for the first time since Dec. 19.
New York’s Ryan McDonagh appeared to get hit in the side of the face by an Anaheim shot at the final buzzer, leaving the forward down on the ice in pain. McDonagh eventually got up and skated off, and New York coach Alain Vigneault said McDonagh is “OK, as far as I know.”
Jamie McGinn scored and John Gibson stopped 21 shots for the Ducks, who have lost four of five in their first poor stretch since Christmas. The Ducks lost in regulation at home for the first time since Jan. 17, ending a 10-game points streak at Honda Center.
“I thought we passed up way too many chances to shoot,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We tried to be cute, and when we’re a cute team and not just getting pucks to the net, we’re not successful. And when you don’t get a chance on the power play, it makes it a little more difficult. I think we deserved at least one.”
Brandon Pirri made his debut for Anaheim, slotting in on the Ducks’ top line with captain Ryan Getzlaf and fellow midseason acquisition David Perron. Anaheim grabbed Pirri from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline, but had to wait 2 1/2 weeks while he recovered from a nasty ankle injury that kept him off the ice for a full month.
McGinn put the Ducks on the board midway through the first period after a spectacular play by Corey Perry. The former NHL MVP took the puck away from Klein with an artful reach before feeding the unmarked McGinn for his third goal in eight games with his new team.
“I just didn’t think we executed well,” McGinn said. “We didn’t do some of the things we talked about in the room. They were playing fast, and they made us turn and go back to get pucks.”
Klein made up for it early in the second, putting a long rebound of Tanner Glass‘ shot into an open net when Gibson was slow to move post to post.
NOTES: Anaheim D Kevin Bieksa and C Nate Thompson both missed their second straight games with lower-body injuries. D Sami Vatanen sat out his third straight game with an upper-body injury. … Linesman Lonnie Cameron went to the dressing room in the second period after he was hit by a long cross-ice pass by Anaheim’s Ryan Garbutt. Cameron returned later in the period. … New York F Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch, missing his first game since Jan. 14. The Swede has one point in his last seven games.