NEW YORK — Figuratively, it was shaping up to be a brutal game for the New York Rangers. But in every way imaginable, that’s how it ended up for the Minnesota Wild, who coughed up a three-goal lead and suffered a stunning 5-4 defeat in Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
The Rangers had turned in a listless performance against the Wild through two periods, and were hampered by 14 minutes spent on the penalty kill; Chris Kreider was given five minutes and a game misconduct after a boarding call on defenseman Jonas Brodin, who returned, and John Moore earned a match penalty for targeting the head of Erik Haula on a vicious hit that will all but surely earn him a lengthy suspension. Minnesota got on the board with three second period goals and had held the Rangers to just eight shots on goal through the first 40 minutes of play. Surely, they seemed well on their way to a blowout win.
So, what changed?
“For us, we just didn’t play very good hockey those first two periods,” winger Ryan Malone told The Trentonian.
“We were shorthanded, but we found a way to get the job done. That’s all that matters. (We needed to) play with some emotion; go out there and get one and see what happens, you never know. Obviously, Nasher, Zucc, Brass…everyone stepped up and led the charge offensively. Everyone was on their toes on puck battles, and the result was a win.”
Early third period tallies by Kevin Klein and Rick Nash cut the deficit to 3-2, but Jason Zucker’s goal, scored just 47 seconds after Nash’s, to get Minnesota’s lead back up to 4-2 seemed to be a back breaker for the Rangers.
“When they scored that fourth one, that was a tough one,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “We came back with two goals, and we had energy and we had the building going, and they kind of killed the momentum. It’s great to see the way guys stepped up and showed character.”
The Rangers would score three unanswered goals after that; Derick Brassard got them to within one at 7:54, Anthony Duclair’s first career NHL goal tied the game at 4-4 with 3:48 left in regulation and Mats Zuccarello’s first of the season just 37 seconds later capped off a wild frenzy of action after an otherwise uninteresting first two periods of play.
“These are big points right now, and we want to catch up on teams in front of us,” Lundqvist said. “We found a way tonight, even though it looked pretty dark for a while. We kept battling, and I’m happy with the way we responded.”