ST. PAUL, MIN. – It’s debatable which team needed a win more Saturday night when the reeling Wild faced a depleted Rangers team on the ice at the Xcel Energy Center.
Minnesota was looking to stop its bleeding four-game losing streak, while the Blueshirts needed a boost after learning they would be without their top defenseman and second-line center for some time.
Ultimately, it was the Wild who staged a valiant comeback following shootout goals from Mats Zuccarello and Matt Boldy to claim a 5-4 win over the Rangers, ending their six-game winning streak.
Without the three starters Adam Fox (long-term injured reserve), Filip Chytil (injured reserve) and Barclay Goodrow (paternity), the Rangers were leading 3-0 and the Wild benefited from the momentum from the end of the first period at the.
Head coach Peter Laviolette urged the Rangers to maintain offensive pressure despite holding a lead, but Minnesota appeared to want more at times after falling into a deep hole early Saturday night.
After the Rangers enjoyed a three-goal lead early in the first period and a masterful performance from Jonathan Quick, the Wild took over at the end of the period and dictated the tempo of the game in midfield.
Minnesota scored two goals in a 29-second span in the second half, cutting the Rangers’ lead to one. On both plays, Quick lost his stick as the Rangers pushed into their own zone.
The Wild managed to tie the score on a goal from Zuccarello, a former Ranger, just 1:41 into the third period before Marco Rossi gave his team its first lead of the night later in the final frame.
Chris Kreider finally answered for the Rangers with his signature tip of an Artemi Panarin bomb from the top of the zone with 13:20 left.
With this goal, Kreider passed Andy Bathgate for the fourth-most goals in Rangers history.
The Rangers spent much of the last 20 regular minutes in their own zone, but were able to at least secure a point.
The Wild doubled the Rangers’ shots on goal 14-7 in the first 20 minutes, but the visitors still took a 3-0 lead into the first break.
However, they didn’t make it easy for themselves as they gave Minnesota three power play opportunities, with Quick making nine saves to keep the Wild off the field.
However, the Blueshirts capitalized on three of their first four shots in the 3:17 span.
The revamped fourth line of Jimmy Vesey, Nick Bonino and Tyler Pitlick opened the scoring when Vesey saved a deflection off Pitlick’s stick at the far post.
Shortly afterwards, Artemi Panarin threw the puck into the net from the top of the circle, extending his points streak at the start of the season to eleven games.
The Rangers then produced a strong passing sequence in a 3-on-2 rush that ended on the stick of trailing Erik Gustafsson, who buried the ball to make it 3-0 at 6:53 of the first period.
The fans in attendance let the team know what they thought of their start to the game with ambush boos.
This forced the Wild to subtract goaltender Filip Gustavsson in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury, who could hardly be considered cold after going through warmups just before the game began.