Ales Kotalik's power-play goal snapped a third-period tie, and backup Steve Valiquette made 18 saves in the New York Rangers' fourth straight victory, 3-0 over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.New York, 4-0 since a season-opening loss at Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh, earned this victory in Sean Avery's season debut following his knee injury during training camp. Avery played his annoying style and goaded Ducks defenseman Ryan Whitney into a roughing penalty 1:34 into the third, setting up Kotalik's winning score.
Valiquette stopped 11 shots in the second period after a quiet start and earned his fourth NHL shutout and 15th career victory.
Little-used forward Artem Anisimov scored his first NHL goal with 5:38 left during another power play to make it 2-0, with an assist from Avery. That goal was set up by Evgeny Artyukhin's 4-minute, high-sticking penalty.
Dan Girardi sealed the win with a short-handed, empty-netter with 1:59 left.
On New York's first goal, Marian Gaborik worked the puck around the right-wing boards before sending a pass up top to Michael Del Zotto. The defenseman moved it down to Kotalik at the bottom of the left circle for a shot that clipped the stick of Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer and caromed up and over goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, inside the left post at 2:14.
It was a hard-luck loss for the Ducks, who were playing for the second straight night with starts less than 24 hours apart. Anaheim rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period at Philadelphia on Saturday night and won 3-2 in a shootout. All the goals, including the lone shootout tally, were scored by Teemu Selanne. The 39-year-old forward had scored twice in two consecutive games.
Giguere, making his second start of the season while splitting time with Jonas Hiller, finished with 35 saves as the Ducks wrapped up a four-game road trip 2-1-1. Dating to last season, Anaheim had earned points in 12 straight road games (9-0-3).
The Rangers dominated on the shot clock, but failed to generate many early scoring chances. In addition to being stymied by Giguere, New York was also victimized by the goal posts. Kotalik rang shots off the pipes in each of the first two periods, and Gaborik clanked one in the second.
With the Rangers slated to play three times in four nights, coach John Tortorella gave Valiquette his first start of the season in place of No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Valiquette was barely tested in the first period when New York held a 13-1 shots advantage, but he bailed out teammate Marc Staal in the second. Valiquette stopped Todd Marchant's hard drive from in close after the defenseman turned over the puck in the Rangers zone.
Avery was involved in several scrums, including one at the end of the second period that had officials separating him and Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf as they traded verbal jabs.
NOTES: It was Valiquette's first shutout since Oct. 17, 2008, against Toronto. ... The Ducks begin a six-game homestand Wednesday vs. Minnesota. ... Marchant was helped off the ice after he slammed into the end boards behind the Rangers net in the third period. ... Anisimov had only 4:16 of ice time in the first two periods. He scored his first NHL point, an assist, Thursday at Washington.