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Rangers 3, Wild 2: Minnesota gives up late lead, flounders in OT

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Shocker!

Minnesota Wild v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild continued their road trip along the east coast Monday night by taking on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The game marked the first return to New York for former Rangers star Mats Zuccarello after playing parts of nine seasons for the Blueshirts. The game was also an opportunity for the Wild to move on from a disappointing end to Saturday’s game in Boston when Minnesota gave up a two-goal lead late in the third period and lost in overtime.

The first period started with an early power-play opportunity for the Wild, as Boo Nieves took a slashing penalty just 3:03 into the period. In a nice change of events, the Wild were the team with the early advantage rather than taking the early penalty. The Wild brought good pressure for the two minutes, but were unable to get anything in the net. There was not much happening for the next several minutes until Kevin Fiala took a roughing penalty. The advantage for the Rangers lasted just 35 seconds as Chris Kreider took a slashing penalty to even things up. Both teams exchanged some shots over the next few minutes, and then with 5:10 to go in the period, Lakeville, Minnesota native and former Golden Gopher (and the subject of the best hockey-related SNL skit) Brady Skjei scored the first goal of the game to put the Rangers up 1-0.

The score would remain 1-0 at the end of the period. The Wild outshot the Rangers 12-9 in the opening stanza and had multiple scoring opportunities. They were just unable to convert on any of them.

The Rangers were in control for most of the second period. Jordan Greenway took an early penalty that the Wild were able to kill, and it actually led to the Wild’s best scoring opportunity of the period as Greenway picked up the puck on his way out of the box and set up Joel Eriksson Ek for a one-timer. No luck beating Henrik Lundqvist on the attempt, though.

This would end up being the only shot for the Wild for much of the second period, as they were severely outplayed by New York. A period of nearly three straight minutes played entirely inside the Wild zone ended with Matt Dumba taking a penalty, leading to another two minutes played almost entirely on defense. In a turn of events that seems to normally go the other way for the Wild, after the Rangers got so many shots and had so many scoring opportunities but were unable to score, it was the Wild scoring on just their second shot of the period, coming nearly 17 minutes into the period. Zach Parise got the puck over and past Lundqvist. Kevin Fiala, who now has nine points in his past eleven games, picked up the primary helper.

Somewhat miraculously, the Wild were outshot 10-2 and spent a fraction of the time the Rangers did in the offensive zone, but they picked up the lone goal of the second period.

The third period started off fairly uneventful, which is a good change from how most of the second period was for the Wild. Shots were actually 12-2 in favor of Minnesota halfway through the period, but it did not feel like the Wild were dominating by any means. Both teams had some opportunities and King Henrik made some great saves, but eventually Ryan Donato put one past him.

A beautiful toe drag, a perfectly placed shot and the Wild were ahead 2-1. It was just his second goal and fourth point of the season, but it came at a great time to give the Wild the lead in the third period.

The Rangers brought as much pressure as they could as time began to tick down. After attacking in the offensive zone for over two minutes, Ryan Hartman took a tripping penalty with just over three minutes to go. The power play lasted just 18 seconds as Chris Kreider was able to quickly score the game-tying goal. The Rangers had a chance in the closing seconds, but the score remained 2-2 and the game headed to overtime.

And you know how this movie ends.

Overtime lasted just 32 seconds, during which the Wild never possessed the puck. The Rangers took the opening faceoff, and Tony DeAngelo put the game-winner past Stalock.

The Wild appeared to be playing man coverage on defense, with Eriksson Ek covering Artemi Panarin and Ryan Suter covering DeAngelo. Panerin and DeAngelo switched sides with DeAngelo skating from the far boards towards the center of the ice. Suter never caught up, and DeAngelo had an easy lane right down the middle.

For the second straight game, the Wild blew a lead late in the third and lost in overtime.

Answers to our Burning Questions

1. Can the Wild hold onto a lead?

No. Just as the Bruins were able to tie the game late in the third period Saturday night, the Rangers were able to tie this game late in the third as well. The Wild had one lead in the game after Donato put them up 2-1 with exactly ten minutes to go in the third period. They held the lead for about seven minutes, but they could not close out the game. And just as the Bruins beat the Wild during the extra period, the Rangers also beat the Wild during overtime.

2. Can the Wild take advantage with the man advantage?

Nope. The Wild went 0-for-2 on the power play. The second power play came shortly after the Wild took a penalty, so they only had 2:35 with a man advantage. They only managed two shots during that time. Hard to be too critical of the Wild for not scoring on what is essentially just one power-play opportunity, but given that regulation ended in a tie, it sure would have been nice if they converted.

3. Will Zuccarello be fueled by home cooking?

Rangers fans were certainly happy to see Zuccarello, but being back in New York did not seem to give him any special boost. No points, a minus-1 and just one shot on goal for the Lizard in his return. Not exactly anything to write home about.