Rangers hit the road to battle Ducks

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers have been red hot of late and they will try to stay on the right track despite a tough batch of road games on their docket this month.

The Blueshirts will try to win for the 11th time in 12 games when they begin a road-heavy part of the schedule with Wednesday's showdown against the NHL- leading Anaheim Ducks.

New York boasts a 10-1-0 mark over its last 11 games, and that run has the defending Eastern Conference champions holding onto the first of the East's two wild card spots.

The Rangers have done most of their damage at home, where they are 13-5-3 this season, but the club has won five of its last six on the road and currently owns an 8-6-1 record as the guest.

New York is playing three straight and six of its next seven games on the road, and will visit Los Angeles and San Jose on this leg. The Rangers will then host the rival New York Islanders on Tuesday before heading out for another three-game trip to Boston, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

"This is a great challenge, and it's a real good time for it, too," Rangers center Dominic Moore recently told his team's website. "We're all about trying to get better, and the way you get better is by facing tough challenges and playing against the best, the toughest teams."

Tonight's contest could serve as a good barometer for the Rangers. After all, the Ducks lead the NHL in points and haven't been too shabby lately themselves, going 12-3-1 since the beginning of December.

Anaheim also has taken two straight in the series with the Rangers and boasts a 4-0-1 mark over the past five encounters between the clubs.

Both the Ducks and Rangers enter Wednesday riding two-game win streaks. New York used stellar offensive performances to take games against Florida and Buffalo by a combined score of 11-3.

After picking up a 5-2 road win at Florida on New Year's Eve, the Rangers downed visiting Buffalo by a 6-1 score on Saturday. Derick Brassard, Rick Nash and Dan Boyle each had a goal and an assist during a first-period flurry, as New York subdued the Sabres at Madison Square Garden.

Chris Kreider also scored during the Rangers' four-goal opening stanza, with Martin St. Louis recording a pair of assists. Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves for New York, which also received goals from Carl Hagelin and Jesper Fast.

Anaheim, meanwhile, is 2-0 so far in the 2015 calendar year after notching a pair of 4-3 wins recently against St. Louis and Nashville. The Ducks beat the Blues in regulation on Friday before needing a shootout to outlast the Predators.

The consecutive wins pushed Anaheim's record on its eight-game homestand to 3-0-1. The Ducks are 14-4-3 at the Honda Center on the season.

Anaheim trailed the Preds 3-2 heading into the final minutes of regulation, but the Ducks evened the score on Francois Beauchemin's tally with 2:17 left in the third. Ryan Kesler later won it in the shootout when he beat Carter Hutton with a blast from between the circles to close the third round.

Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry also scored in regulation for the Ducks. Frederik Andersen earned the victory after making 27 saves in the first 65 minutes and stopping two of three chances in the game's final segment.

"We're first in NHL," Beauchemin realized. "You can't really ask for more than that. Knowing that, we know we've got better hockey to play. We can be better at staying out of the box. Those are things we need to focus on. I think if we do that, we'll be successful."

Andersen expects to get the call in net for the Ducks, His only career appearance against the Rangers came in a 2-1 win at MSG on Nov. 4 of last season. Andersen stopped 32-of-33 shots in that regulation win.

Lundqvist will start for the Rangers tonight and owns a 3-4-1 record and 2.71 goals against average in his career versus the Ducks. New York could turn to backup Cam Talbot as the starter in tomorrow night's game in Los Angeles.