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Rangers score five in third for improbable win vs. Wild

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- The game looked as lost as the New York Rangers did for two periods.

They were down by three goals, unable to even sniff the net let alone a quality scoring chance. The Rangers spent 14 of the first 40 minutes killing penalties, including two five-minute majors resulting in ejections and an automatic suspension pending review of defenseman John Moore.

The Minnesota Wild had this one Monday at Madison Square Garden until they didn't. They had this one until they stopped being aggressive. They had this one until the Rangers started to play, to skate, to push and gain momentum.

New York scored five goals in the third period to erase two multiple-goal deficits in a 5-4 win. The Wild had leads of 3-0 after 40 minutes and 4-2 early in the third period, but couldn't stop the Rangers from doing something they hadn't done in more than 22 years.

The most-recent time the Rangers won a game when trailing by at least three goals entering the third period was Feb. 21, 1992, when they beat the Minnesota North Stars.

"We kind of came in after the second period and we were like, 'It's been so bad, so why not just go out swinging and try to create something,' " Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "We got that one, got the crowd going a bit, started tightening it up, and we started rolling."

New York got goals from Kevin Klein, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Anthony Duclair and Mats Zuccarello. For Duclair, it was his first NHL goal. For Zuccarello, it was his first goal of the season and the game-winner.

Brassard and Zuccarello each had a goal and two assists, Nash and Klein each had a goal and an assist and defenseman Matt Hunwick had two assists for the Rangers.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves.

"That's one of the best periods I've seen three guys play in a long time," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said, referencing Brassard, Zuccarello and Nash. "Tough to get any rhythm or momentum in the first two periods. I mean, we spent 14 minutes in the box. We were down 3-0, fought back."

Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper allowed four goals in his first five starts before allowing all five goals on 12 shots in the third period. He started the game with a .966 save percentage and 0.81 goals-against average; he finished it with a .934 save percentage and 1.56 GAA.

The Wild's power-play drought continued; they went 0-for-4 despite two five-minute advantages for major infractions by Rangers forward Chris Kreider (boarding Jonas Brodin at 19:44 of the first period) and Moore (match penalty for a hit to the head of Erik Haula at 7:12 of the second).

Minnesota is 0-for-24 on the power play this season.

Haula didn't return to the game. Kreider and Moore were ejected. Moore's match penalty comes with an automatic suspension pending review by the NHL, according to Rule 21 in the NHL Rulebook.

The Wild, though, built a 3-0 lead through two periods on goals from Nate Prosser, Matt Cooke and Jason Pominville despite not having Haula, Brodin and left wing Zach Parise for a stretch of time.

Brodin left the game after Kreider hit him but returned at 9:05 of the second period. Parise left the game at 2:14 of the second after taking a stick to the face; he didn't return until 14:54.

"That's what's frustrating right now because through two periods we did a good job dealing with everything," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "This power play has taken on a life of its own right now, but we come out of it and score a goal and then we come right back and get another one. I thought everybody did a good job keeping their heads in it. We put ourselves in position to win a hockey game that we definitely should have."

Klein started the Rangers comeback with a goal off a slap shot from the blue line through a screening Nash at 2:52 of the third. Nash scored 1:56 later, with a backhand from the slot off a rebound of Matt Hunwick's shot from the point to cut Minnesota's lead to 3-2.

There was life in the Garden. The Rangers had momentum for 47 seconds.

Jason Zucker countered, scoring on a redirection of Nino Niederreiter's shot at 5:35 of the third period. At that point the Wild thought they had weathered the Rangers' momentum swing, that their counterpunch would be good enough to settle down and win the remainder of the period.

"It should have," Yeo said. "We've got the game in our hands there, but these are learning times for us right now. There's a certain way we have to play and if we play that way we're an effective team. If we don't then the result you saw in the third period is what will come around."

New York responded with unanswered goals by Brassard, Duclair and Zuccarello.

Brassard scored to make it 4-3 at 7:54, or 2:19 after Zucker's goal.

"We were happy we got two, but if we got two we knew we could go get some more," Staal said. "Everyone was on their toes, going after them, making it count."

Duclair made one count for the first time in his NHL career.

He doesn't play on the penalty kill and was therefore limited to eight shifts totaling six minutes of ice time through 40 minutes, but he was one of New York's fastest forwards in the third period and he cashed in with the tying goal at 16:12.

Duclair flashed up the right wing, grabbed a long pass from Hunwick, skated into the right circle and sent a wrist shot dribbling through Kuemper.

"I had tight speed," Duclair said. "I saw a little opening there, a little blocker. It squeezed through."

Zuccarello came back with his first goal of the season 37 seconds later, scoring on a one-timer from just off the right post off a backhanded pass from Brassard, who was behind the net. Zuccarello had room because Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon was stuck near the left post.

"It's just one of those games that, you know, we blew," Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said.

Or, from the Rangers perspective, "We battled," Lundqvist said. "It wasn't pretty for two periods and it was not great at all, but we found a way."


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