This team does not like to do things the simple way. When playing in Minnesota, they have to be Wild. Pardon the pun, but there was no need for something like this, yet it happened. Your New York Rangers lost 5-4 in the shootout to the Minnesota Wild in a game that never should have been in doubt. Yes, there were several essential parts of this team missing, but that was not good enough for this team.
It started well early. Jimmy Vesey gave the Rangers the lead after the puck hit his skate and bounced in off a feed from Tyler Pitlick. Ryan Lindgren also got an assist as two Minnesotans combined to help their team in their home state. A 1-0 Rangers lead 3:36 into the first period, and the Blueshirts were doing well on the road.
It got better at 5:52 of the first period when Artemi Panarin found the back of the net for the sixth time this season, continuing to add to his point streak. That now sits at 11 games after his goal from Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafreniere. It was 2-0 Rangers early, and they were hot. This looked like the team that could have blasted the Wild out of the building.
Erik Gustafsson tallied his third of the season a minute later to make it 3-0. Will Cuylle got his first assist of the season, and Blake Wheeler got his first point as a New York Ranger on that pass to feed the Swedish defenseman tasked with filling the enormous role that Adam Fox plays for the Blueshirts. It was domination from the Rangers early, and it prompted the Wild to change the netminder. Gustavsson is out, and Marc-Andre Fleury is in.
Oh, but the Rangers cannot have nice things. Ryan Hartman would score at 5:57 of the second period to break the shutout bid of Jonathan Quick, who was brilliant in this game. He was the only reason the Wild didn’t score after the Rangers made it 3-0 because from then, the Wild were allowed to run the show for the rest of the night.
Joel Eriksson Ek scored 30 seconds later to cut the lead to one, and the Rangers looked shell-shocked. Minnesota had momentum and was starting to press the Rangers into submission. It was a difficult period for Peter Laviolette, who had to stop the Wild’s momentum after that goal with his time out.
Mars Zuccarello scored against the Rangers because, of course, he did. 1:41 of the third period, it was a tie game, and the Rangers finished their choke job. It was made worse when 3 minutes later, Marco Rossi gave the Wild the lead, and they would continue to hammer away as a Rangers team that had no answer to the pressure.
A minute later, the Rangers got a goal. The faceoff was won back to Gustafsson. Gustafsson lays the puck over to Panarin. Panarin fires and Chris Kreider does what he does best and knocks the puck around the netminder to pass Andy Bathgate for fourth all-time in goals for the New York Rangers. His eighth goal of the season tied it up at 4. It wasn’t good, but it was better than losing.
In the shootout, Zuccarello and Panarin trade beautiful dekes. Then, Matthew Boldy gets a lucky bounce when he fires off the bar. It hits Jonathan Quick’s posterior and trickles over the goal line. Fleury stops the third shot, and the New York Rangers lose a game in which they were leading 3-0 after 7 minutes. The final shots were 18 for the Rangers and 40 for the Wild. It was not good enough.