Zuccarello leads Rangers past Canucks 5-1
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The New York Rangers knew exactly what to expect from the Vancouver Canucks and used it to their advantage.
Mats Zuccarello scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves Saturday as New York rolled past Vancouver 5-1 by capitalizing on the Canucks' tendency to pinch their defense at the opposing team's blue line.
The Rangers scored on three odd-man rushes in quick succession before the game was 7 minutes old.
''We pre-scouted, our coaches talked about that a lot,'' said New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who opened the scoring. ''It was going to be a big job for our wingers to either hold onto pucks or not get it back to them or get it out of the zone.
''We were able to do that right away in the first period and we got some good looks because of it.''
J.T. Miller and Marc Staal had the other goals for New York, while Rick Nash and Derick Brassard each had two assists.
''We talked about them pinching,'' said Lundqvist, whose team hadn't played since Monday and had lost two of its last three. ''I didn't think they were going to go that hard every time. It was almost like a 50-50 puck they were going for it and we made them pay, especially in the first period.''
Nick Bonino had the only goal for Vancouver, while Ryan Miller made 18 stops.
''There's no excuse for that. We know that we've got to be better than that,'' said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins. ''Sometimes there's nights like this. They're never acceptable, but the only thing we can do is get better. We have no choice. The only choice we have is to get better.''
The Canucks were playing at home for the first time since Nov. 25 after wrapping up a season-high seven-game road trip that saw them go a respectable 3-3-1, but finish with consecutive defeats in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Desjardins said changes will be coming in his team's approach ahead of Wednesday's home game against Dallas.
''We played a certain way and now we're getting caught on it,'' he said. ''We try to play an aggressive style and when it doesn't work it goes the other way and it was going the other way tonight.
''I think we have to make some adjustments in the system.''
After a bad pinch from defenseman Ryan Stanton, Jesper Fast fed McDonagh on a 3-on-1 break for his first of the season at 2:36 of the opening period to make it 1-0.
The Rangers then somehow broke in on a 4-on-1 rush shortly after that and failed to connect before J.T. Miller buried his third of the season on a 2-on-1 break with a nice move to the backhand at 3:19.
Zuccarello made it 3-0 at 6:46 on another 3-on-1, scoring his fifth of the season as New York scored on three straight shots.
''Wrong decisions all over the ice,'' Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. ''Forwards not coming back, not keeping the third guy high, defense pinching when they shouldn't. On every one of those you can point out three or four mistakes. It's not just one guy, its from all five guys on the ice.''
Staal made it 4-0 at 7:17 of the second when his first of the season found its way through a screen past Miller, who looked especially frustrated and shrugged his shoulders as the Rangers celebrated.
New York's Martin St. Louis was awarded a penalty shot just over 5 minutes later after getting hooked on a breakaway, but he couldn't beat the Vancouver goalie.
But any good feeling didn't last long as Zuccarello scored his second of the night and sixth of the season with 2:21 left in the period by tapping home a slick pass from Brassard.
Vancouver finally got on the board when Bonino broke Lundqvist's shutout bid at 4:20 of the third with his eighth of the season and first in 16 games, but it was far too late to influence an outcome that was decided early.
''You're going to go through a season, you're going to have to find a way to dig out of things,'' said Miller. ''This is our first opportunity to have to dig out of a hole that's a little deeper than usual. See how we respond here. You're not going to go 82 (games) without a stretch like this.''
NOTES: Bonino's goal was his first point in seven games. ... Saturday marked the Rangers' first game outside of the Eastern time zone since the season opener against St. Louis. ... Canucks F Derek Dorsett suited up for Vancouver after missing Friday's practice to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Dorsett was acquired in an offseason trade with the Rangers.