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Wild aim to rebound in Manhattan

by Brian Compton
WILD (33-25-6) at RANGERS (33-28-4)

TV -- FS-North (HD), MSG (HD)

Last 10 -- Minnesota 4-5-1; New York 4-6-0.

Season series -- This is the second and final meeting between the teams. The Rangers cruised to a 5-2 victory against the Wild on Nov. 20 at the Xcel Energy Center.

Big story -- It's the second game in as many nights in the Empire State for the Wild, and they're hoping for a much better result than what transpired on Long Island on Wednesday night. Desperately needing points to stay in the heated playoff race in the Western Conference, the Wild were no-shows in a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

"Obviously, we haven't been good the last couple of games," center Kyle Brodziak said, referring also to Monday's 4-2 home loss to Chicago. "We definitely need more desperation. We're fighting for our playoff lives here."

Team Scope:

Wild -- Goaltender Niklas Backstrom struggled mightily against the Islanders on Wednesday, allowing three goals on 19 shots and was replaced early in the second period by Jose Theodore. It was hardly all Backstrom's fault, considering Minnesota surrendered 17 shots on goal in the opening period.

"It's frustrating," Brodziak said. "It was a must-win for us, and we didn't get the job done. It makes (Thursday) night even that much bigger. We have to stop the slide now and do whatever it takes tomorrow to turn it around."

Rangers -- New York enters Thursday's action in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, but the Blueshirts are hardly within striking distance of clinching a playoff spot. With Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers are only one point up on the eighth-place Carolina Hurricanes, who hold one game in hand.

New York is also just three points ahead of the Sabres, who have three games in hand.

"It comes down to that we are not scoring enough at home to win games here," Rangers forward Vinny Prospal said. "It seems like we are not able to capitalize on their mistakes. And it has been the difference lately."

Who's hot -- Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard had an assist on Minnesota's lone tally Wednesday night. He has points in two of his last three games. … Rangers forward Ryan Callahan has three points in his last four contests.

Injury report -- Minnesota will be without Mikko Koivu (broken finger), Cam Barker (upper body), Guillaume Latendresse (groin), Josh Harding (ACL/MCL) and James Sheppard (knee). … The Rangers will be missing Martin Biron (broken collarbone), Marian Gaborik (concussion), Alex Frolov (knee), Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder), Chris Drury (knee) and Derek Boogaard (concussion).

Stat pack -- Minnesota had allowed only one goal in its previous 24 shorthanded situations before the Isles' Blake Comeau scored a power-play goal midway through the first period on Wednesday. The Isles scored again in the second period. … The Rangers are 2-9 in the 11 regulation games they've played since Jan. 24. Henrik Lundqvist has lost four of his last six starts.

Puck drop: "It's life in the Western Conference. We just have to play better more than worry about where we are in the standings. If we play better, we'll get our points and our wins. We're better than we played, that's for sure." -- Wild forward Andrew Brunette after Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Islanders
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