NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 03: Martin Halvat #24 of the Minnesota Wild knocks down Brandon Prust #8 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Jose Theodore made forty saves for Minnesota as the Wild defeated the Rangers 3-1 tonight at Madison Square Garden and left the Rangers teetering on the edge of playoff contention.
The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres in overtime to spring past the Rangers into 7th place overall in the Eastern Conference with a game at hand. The Rangers lost their third in a row, all at home.
Before the game, Al Trautwig praised the Rangers demeanor as they took the ice, comparing them to the military. I'm guessing he meant "Gomer Pyle USMC".
In a dominant first period, Sean Avery finally found the back of the net to give the Rangers a rare early lead. It was only his third goal of the season, and first since January 8th. Rangers played terrific defense in the opening period, not allowing a Wild shot until there were about three minutes left in the period.
Kyle Brodziak tied the game for Minnesota in the second with a deflection goal to tie it, and since no Ranger game is complete without a milestone goal by the opposition, Casey Wellman was happy to oblige with his first goal of the season, and only the second of his career to put the Wild ahead for good.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard added a goal in the third to send the Rangers to another loss on home ice, which seems to be made of Kryptonite as far as the Rangers are concerned.
Judging from the comments I've already seen, this will be hotly debated by both sides, but to me, Henrik Lundqvist has to be better than he has been. He is the best player on this team, and giving up three goals on nineteen shots just isn't going to cut it. It's simply been too long since he has been the best player on the ice for the Rangers. I know they aren't scoring, and I know they are struggling on the power play, but he is the only elite player in the lineup right now, he needs to play like it, and I know he will, because he has done it before.
Perhaps even bigger than the loss to the Wild may be the loss of Ryan McDonagh, who went down hard in the game and was unable to return. Looked like a leg or ankle injury.
The Rangers keep talking about how they don't worry about the teams behind them, they are looking at the teams in front of them. They better start checking the rear view mirror, because the objects back there are definitely larger than they appear.