Tonight the Minnesota Wild would look to get rid of this monkey they have had on their back for the past 3 games and earn a win over the New York Rangers at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Both teams are fighting for their playoff spots as the Wild sit uncomfortably in 7th in the West and the Ranger sit at 6th and just 1 point ahead of the 8th place Philadelphia Flyers.
The Wild were able to come away with the victory in regulation and put a little distance between them and the Phoenix Coyotes tonight who are 9th in the West and lost to the Boston Bruins this evening.
The Wild and Rangers would go back and forth during much of the first period. On two Wild power plays the Rangers would do a nice job of keeping the Wild to the outside and bottling up the neutral zone as well. Nino Niederreiter would score the lone goal on the period after Kyle Brodziak would get in behind the net on the forecheck causing a bit a havoc for the Rangers D. Brodziak would bounce the puck out front of the net where a breaking Niederreiter would fire a wrister past Rangers goalie Cam Talbot.
Wrapping up the period the Wild would take a slight advantage in shots on goal (9-7) as well as faceoffs (12-10). They would double up the Rangers on hits as well (8-4), former Wild forward Benoit Pouliot being on the receiving end of a couple of those and they were not light by any means.
Early into the second period Wild center Kyle Brodziak would get his stick up high on Chris Kreider giving the Rangers a 2 minute advantage, and they would capitalize with the extra skater. After some zone time, Hastings Minnesota native Derek Stepan would skate the puck in from the blue line and fire wrist shot that Darcy Kuemper did not see. Tie-game, early in the middle frame.
The period would end in a 1-1 tie as both squads went back and forth exchanging opportunities. I have to give the Wild the advantage on chances here as Zach Parise had been itching for one in front of the net all game. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon would have a great chance himself to close the period out but he could not put the puck in it's home.
The Wild would kick off the third period with a flurry in front of the Rangers net courtesy of Mikael Granlund, Jason Pominville and Zach Parise. Each of them would take whacks at a puck in the crease as Talbot tried feverishly to cover it for the whistle. Parise would put the final blow to the puck and put the Wild up 2-1 just 63 seconds into the period.
Late in the game Kyle Brodziak would inadvertantly flip the puck over the boards in the defensive zone, that's a paddlin. 2 minutes in the box with just over 3 left in the game would give the Rangers all the advantage they could ask for to try and tie this one up. They even pulled their goalie early to gain the 6 on 4 advantage and after the penalty expired Ryan Suter would break the blade off his stick and have to essentially finish off the game without it.
The Wild were able to fend off the attack and finish off the game with the lead intact. The 3 game skid is over folks, as the Wild win in regulation against the Rangers.
The Wild were dominant in the faceoff circle tonight, winning 57% of tonight's draws. Although they were not able to break-through on the 3 power play chances tonight, they were able to dominate in several key categories and Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 of 30 shots on the evening.
Next up for the Wild they will welcome another Eastern Conference team in the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Xcel Energy Center. Puck drops just after 7 pm this Saturday, we'll have all the coverage you'll need right here at Hockey Wilderness.