While last game was certainly encouraging, the New York Rangers followed it up with a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild this evening. Many of the Rangers defensive issues crept back into their game tonight, and the offense just couldn't find a way to get around Minnesota's suffocating defense. Couple that with a scary injury to Antti Raanta after taking a heavy shot off the helmet, and tonight was just a complete mess.
With Raanta leaving the game and not returning, Henrik Lundqvist was forced into action without any sort of preparation. Normally that kind of stuff doesn't affect Lundqvist, but tonight it clearly did. He just didn't look as sharp as he normally does, and despite the defensively breakdowns, Lundqvist let in a few goals he usually makes routine. Again, the Rangers didn't help him nearly enough in their own zone, so this one isn't on Lundqvist even in the slighest.
The Rangers didn't have the start that they would have liked, and as a result, the Wild were able to get on the board with an early goal. Viktor Stalberg's attempted outlet pass was intercepted in the slot by Thomas Vanek, and the rest was pretty much a cluster. Marc Staal lost his man coming back into the zone, and that left Mikko Koivu wide open in front of the net.
Vanek capped it off by feeding the puck out to Koivu, and the Wild took an early 1-0 lead. The Rangers were only able to muster up five total shots on goal in the first period, and went into the second period trailing by a goal. However, the Wild would eventually double up their lead late in the second period coming on a power play goal from Matt Dumba.
Nino Neiderreither got it all started by making a strong move to the front of the net, and generated a rebound at the top of the crease. The puck took a strange bounce and flipped up in the air, with Lundqvist attempted to react to the recent bounce. Matt Dumba was able to sneak it from the point and swatted the puck out of mid-air to give the Wild a late 2-0 lead.
A few minutes after the Wild scored, the Rangers responded with a goal of their own and made this a one goal game. Tanner Glass went in hard on the forecheck, and forced the puck loose in behind the net, which gave the Rangers possession. Emerson Etem was able to collect the puck, and fed a slick little pass back to Dominic Moore, who smoked one by Devan Dubnyk.
In terms of momentum, that goal was huge for the Rangers heading into the intermission, and set the tone for the third period. Although, the Wild had other ideas and started out the third period with two consecutive goals. Jason Pominville came away with the first goal, and Chris Porter followed up with a fluky bounce at the goal line about 40 seconds later.
The Rangers finally stopped the bleeding with under four minutes remaining as Ryan McDonagh one-timed a sweet feed from J.T. Miller, and made it a 4-2 game. The Wild eventually closed out the scoring a few moments later of Mikko Koivu chipped home his second goal of the night, and gave the Wild a 5-2 lead. After struggling yet again, the Rangers failed to get the job done, and have now only won three of their last 11 games.
Something needs to give moving forward, and the Rangers will hopefully get a much needed replacement with Derek Stepan rumored to return tomorrow night against the Winnipeg Jets.