While the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild have mostly recovered from their middling starts, both teams experienced various degrees of frustrating moments over the weekend.
The Rangers are hoping a disappointing overtime loss to a rival does not carry over into their second losing streak in the past month, while the Wild are hoping to avoid their third three-game losing streak Tuesday night when the teams convene at New York.
Since an ugly 5-2 home loss to the league-worst Chicago Blackhawks left them with a disappointing 11-10-5 record, the Rangers are 11-2-2 in their past 15 contests. Since winning seven straight, New York also is 4-2-2 in their past eight games.
On Saturday afternoon in a visit to the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers seemingly were on their way to another regulation win. Goals by Jimmy Vesey, Julien Gauthier and Chris Kreider staked them to a two-goal lead with 6:45 remaining but goalie Igor Shesterkin was beaten on a two-on-one by defenseman Damon Severson with 2:13 remaining in overtime and the Rangers were handed a 4-3 loss.
“I think we found our way out of the (11-10-5) start, which is nice,” New York defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “I think that weighed on a lot of guys. I feel like we’re a more confident group now than we were, whatever it was, 20 games ago, maybe. We’re playing better hockey. You’re not going to come in here and win every night.”
New York’s recovery also features a 5-1-0 home record, including last Tuesday’s 5-3 comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers play nine of their next 11 at home.
Minnesota won 10 of 12 (10-2-0) from Nov. 27-Dec. 21 but since a 4-1 win at Anaheim, its performance has tailed off slightly and the Wild are hoping to avoid losing three straight for the first time since Nov. 13-17.
Since the solid 12-game stretch ended, the Wild are 3-3-1 in their past seven games with each regulation loss coming by a three-goal margin.
After a 6-5 overtime loss in Buffalo on Saturday, the Wild started slowly offensively until making a charge in the third period of a 3-0 home loss to the St. Louis Blues. Minnesota produced 35 shots but 23 were in the third period and that came a night after getting 44 shots on goal.
“We liked our game today, defensively for sure,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “Offensively, we couldn’t freaking score, right? You even look at the end there, the pucks we threw at the net were ping-ponging all over the place and didn’t find their way not even into the net, they didn’t find their way onto the net. Normally they do.”
Filip Gustavsson made 21 saves and started as primary goalie Marc-Andre Fleury attended to a personal matter. Fleury is expected to return Tuesday and make his 64th career regular-season appearance against the Rangers.
Minnesota also is hoping to get former Ranger Mats Zuccarello back from a brief absence. Zuccarello is second on the team with 16 goals and 40 points but has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury.
The Rangers earned a 7-3 win in Minnesota Oct. 13 when Kreider scored twice.
–Field Level Media