The New York Rangers earned a key win their last time out as they work to put a sluggish start behind them. A matchup with the struggling Anaheim Ducks could allow them to continue doing so, though Sean Avery won't be in the lineup to help.
Coming off their first home win, the Rangers won't have the agitating forward in the lineup Thursday night as they try to deal the visiting Ducks a fourth straight loss.
Avery failed to make the team during the preseason and was sent to the minors, but in need of a more edgy and physical presence, the Rangers (4-3-3) moved to bring him back this week. Avery cleared re-entry waivers Tuesday and is back on the roster, but coach John Tortorella decided to stick with the same lineup that beat San Jose 5-2 on Monday - a decision with which Avery agreed.
"I spoke to the coaches, and I didn't skate because of re-entry waivers for a couple of days. And you know, really the guys played pretty good last game and had a big win, so I wouldn't change the lineup," he said after practice Wednesday.
Tortorella said this week that he didn't want to "force feed" the fan favorite into the lineup. New York, though, is missing the rugged play of forward Mike Rupp, out with a left knee injury.
The Rangers will look to build on the victory over a Sharks club which had won five straight. It was New York's first win in three games at the renovated Madison Square Garden.
Ryan Callahan scored twice during New York's three-goal second period and Martin Biron made 24 saves. Biron getting his second start of the season means Henrik Lundqvist will likely be back in net Thursday as he looks to end a three-game losing streak.
Lundqvist has allowed four goals in each of his last two starts. He has dropped two straight to Anaheim, the most recent being a 2-1 shootout loss Oct. 8 as the teams met in Sweden.
The Rangers had won three straight in the series before those two losses. New York, though, has won the last two matchups at MSG.
The Ducks (5-5-2) have dropped three in a row and six of seven. On Tuesday, Anaheim gave up the tying goal with 42 seconds left in regulation and lost 5-4 in overtime at Washington.
The Ducks led 3-0 and 4-2, but they were outshot 31-9 after the first period, including 18-4 in the third.
"We just seem to find a way to lose right now and we definitely have to forget about it and concentrate on the good things and I know everyone can play better, and I have to start with myself," said Jonas Hiller, who has lost five of his last six starts with a 3.59 goals-against average.
Hiller made 14 saves against the Rangers on Oct. 8 and stopped all four of their shootout attempts.
Teemu Selanne turned in another strong game Tuesday with two goals and two assists. The 41-year-old forward leads his team with 14 points and has 15 goals and 11 assists in 24 games versus the Rangers, though he has managed only one assist in the last four.
Fatigue may be a factor for Anaheim, which is 1-2-2 on a seven-game, 13-day road trip that ends Saturday against Detroit.