Teemu Selanne's return took a while, but the Anaheim Ducks found out it was worth the wait. Now they'd like to found out if there's still time to put a positive finish on their monster road trip.
The Ducks look to win consecutive games following a six-game losing streak as they continues their nine-game road trip on Thursday against the New York Rangers.
Anaheim (28-22-7) had dropped the first four games on its nine-game, 15-day journey that will eventually span four time zones. It's the longest continuous stretch away from home in franchise history, and it wasn't going well until Selanne stepped on the ice for the first time this season on Tuesday.
He assisted on the team's first goal and had four shots in 18 minutes of ice time as Anaheim posted a much-needed 3-0 victory against the New York Islanders.
"This was an important win. Hopefully this is going to be a turning point," said Selanne, who sat out the team's first 56 games pondering retirement after posting 48 goals last season. "I want to get tired and I want to keep pushing myself and get all the rustiness out."
The defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks were due for a stop at the White House on Wednesday to be honored for the first title in team history, and in mid-January played like a team poised to repeat, going 8-0-1 from Jan. 2-18 and surging toward the top of the Western Conference.
But they then dropped six straight games, scoring a combined five goals.
Anaheim had gone 177 minutes, 56 seconds without a goal prior to Scott Niedermeyer's second-period power-play tally Tuesday.
"Eventually, it was going to turn around," said Niedermeyer, who opted to sit out the Ducks' first 34 games as he also considered retiring. "To score definitely releases a little bit of tension, and you just go out and play after that."
The Ducks average 2.37 goals - only the Islanders score fewer per game. Center Ryan Getzlaf was one of the team's few consistent point producers with a 15-game point streak between Dec. 22-Jan. 23, but he's been held scoreless in the team's last five games.
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is coming off back-to-back regulation shutouts, the first time he's done that since posting three straight from Dec. 8-15, 2002.
The Rangers (27-23-6) closed out a four-game road trip last week with consecutive wins against Eastern Conference heavyweights Philadelphia, New Jersey and Montreal, outscoring those teams 12-4.
Their return home didn't go nearly as well. New York lost to NHL-worst Los Angeles 4-2 on Tuesday, scoring just one goal in the final two periods despite taking 35 of its 41 shots in that span.
"I thought we should have jumped on them to get a lead, but it was the other way around," said Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr, second on the team with 47 points. "I don't think we had the energy. It's not like we didn't want to do it."
Jagr has been held without a point his last four games, but Chris Drury has picked up the slack during his slump with five goals and two assists in that stretch.
Brendan Shanahan, who is tied with Drury for the team lead in goals (17), has missed New York's last two games with a left leg injury and it's unknown when he will return.
This is Anaheim's first visit to Madison Square Garden since a 3-1 win on Oct. 28, 2003.
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