Minnesota scored first, even had numerous chances to extend their lead. However, the Wild couldn’t capitalize on those chances, and the mistakes they made ended up in the back of their net. Sound familiar? It should. That’s what has plagued this team on the recent losing streak.
Minnesota got off to a great start in the first period. They controlled play well, got plenty of chances and even forced a couple power plays. At the tail end of the first power play, Nino Niederreiter picked a puck out of the corner and Martin Hanzal slapped at the puck. The puck went directly to Eric Staal in the slot for a shot that beat Anntti Raanta over the glove. It was a welcome sight for a team that seemed like it hasn’t scored first, or held a lead in a game in about 3 weeks. The goaltending of Devan Dubnyk looked to be on as well. A short-handed try by the Rangers was stopped by a pad stack/rolling glove save by the Wild netminder.
The Rangers would kill the penalty and eventually force a faceoff in the Wild zone. It would get won cleanly and forced back to the point for Adam Clendening. Clendening moved the puck to Mats Zuccarello along the boards in the left faceoff circle. Dubnyk kept trying to find the puck through the mass of bodies that hadn’t quite cleared from the faceoff, and when the puck was sent over to the right point for former Minnesota Golden Gopher Brady Skjei, Dubnyk couldn’t get over in time to get a toe on the one-timer.
The second period featured two of the worst Wild trends during this losing streak: 1) Not finishing glorious chances and 2) defense getting caught out of position. The Wild forced a number of odd-man rushes where they either had shots blocked, stick handled themselves out of a shot, or missed wide-open nets like Charlie Coyle. Erik Haula and Coyle broke into the the Rangers’ zone on a 2-on-1 and with the defender down, Haula saucered one over to Coyle. He had a wide open look, but instead shanked it off his stick wide of the goal.
But for every odd-man rush Minnesota seemed to get, the Rangers got some too. A lot of the time Wild defensemen were caught deep in the offensive zone and had to hustle to backcheck. It was messy, to say the least. Speaking of of defensemen out of position, no one decided to to cover for Ryan Suter when he decided to vacate the front of the net to pursue T.J. Miller in the corner. Miller just had to easily center the puck for a net-crashing Oscar Lindberg. It was Lindberg’s 6th of the season.
Former Nashville Predators draft pick turned Ranger by way of college free agency Jimmy Vesey extended the lead when the coverage at at the top of the crease was sketchy at-best. Couple that with Dubnyk taking a stinger off the shoulder where he was clearly hurting, and Vesey just had to be in the right position at the right time.
Minnesota needed a big goal early in the third to at least give them a chance. After the Wild killed off the rest of an Eric Staal penalty, New York was tagged for their second Too Many Men penalty of the game. Charlie Coyle had the puck along with half wall with Matt Dumba on the weak side calling for the puck. Instead he went to the front of the net for Parise, in which Parise pulled the puck back and Dumba pounced on the loose puck for the tally.
It was a Wild scramble at the end, but Minnesota couldn’t find the equalizer and fall 3-2 to the Rangers.