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Postgame Hat Trick: Rangers 3, Wild 2

Scoring first not enough as Minnesota falls to New York

by Devin Lowe /'s Devin Lowe gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-2 loss against the New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Saturday night:

1. After a bizarre power-play no-goal and on the eve of what should be his 1,000th game, Eric Staal scored his 349th career goal, his fifth in the past five games.

And it was a beauty.

The goal came just after somewhat of a kooky man advantage where a Minnesota goal was waved off -- and rightfully so, since the puck never went in the net.

A Matt Dumba shot from the point ricocheted past a few Rangers and Martin Hanzal at the goal mouth. Hanzal raised his hands in celebration, the goal horn sounded and fans started rocking to "Let's Go Crazy," but the puck came to rest on the outside of the netting instead of past Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta.

"I had no idea. I saw the puck on the net and I thought it was in," Hanzal said. "Obviously, it was on the side."

A couple shifts after the no-goal, Ryan Suter fired a slapshot that bounced into the left corner. As the man advantage expired, Matt Dumba popped the puck to Hanzal, who dished it to Staal in the slot, where he picked his corner to put the Wild ahead 12:54 into the opening frame.

Video: NYR@MIN: Staal wires in quick wrister from slot

The goal, his 24th this season, once again tied Staal with Mikael Granlund for the team lead. After tallying just five points in February, Staal is heating up: In nine games so far in March, he's got eight points. It was also the third time in the last 12 games that Minnesota scored first.

"We looked up and there was five minutes, and I said, 'Okay, let's get out of the first period with the lead,' and then right off the faceoff of that play, they score a goal," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of New York's tying goal. "That's frustrating. We would've liked to, obviously, to have gotten the lead again."

2. It took three Rangers penalties, but the League's best home power play converted at 4:51 in the third to cut New York's lead to one.

After Chris Kreider sat for New York's second too many men penalty of the game, Minnesota's man advantage got to work. About a minute in, Zach Parise fed a crashing Dumba, who stuffed the puck past Raanta -- and in the net this time -- for his 9th goal of the season.

Dumba is now one goal shy of his career high, which he set last season. He's already surpassed his career-best points total and now has 28.

Video: NYR@MIN: Dumba pots loose puck in front for PPG

Converting at a rate of 29.3 percent entering the game, Minnesota's home power play continued the trend Saturday night and kept the Wild within one of the Rangers (45-24-3). But defensive zone turnovers and missed chances cost the Wild, which couldn't tie the game.

"It's tough. This is a tough League. They're not easy games every night," Staal said. "You have to continue to play as a team and as a group, and this is a tough stretch for us right now. No one's going to help us out, but us. We got to make sure that we come to play tomorrow and get after a win, and get a good vibe going again."

3. For the first time since Nov. 25, Boudreau split the Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Granlund line -- which has been Minnesota's bread and butter for the better part of the season -- to start a game. 

Whatever else happened to the Wild's lineup between injuries and acquisitions, it's been a given for nearly five months that 16, 9 and 64 would skate together night in and night out.

But with Minnesota on a season-long three-game losing streak and looking for a spark, Boudreau moved Zach Parise to Koivu's left and cobbled together a new line with Staal centering Zucker on the left and Jordan Schroeder on the right.

Since they became a line around Thanksgiving, Zucker, Koivu and Granlund have potted 134 points and a combined plus-78 rating. Both Zucker and Granlund are in the midst of career years, and on a broader scale, the Wild went 33-13-4 while the three were together.

With Parise and Granlund each minus-3 after 40 minutes of play, and with Minnesota (43-21-6) needing a boost again, Boudreau reunited the line in the third frame.

"They all want to win. They are trying really hard out there," Boudreau said. "They want to do the right thing. But right now when things don't go the way you want them to people start doing individual things. They try to start making the tough plays. They stay out a little longer than they're supposed to just because they want things to happen. We talked to them between the second and third. It's about getting back to the simplicity of what we did early on in the season which is when we had so much success."

Video: Bruce Boudreau Postgame vs. Rangers

Loose pucks

• Attendance: 19,337 (largest this season)

• Coupled with the Wild's March 7 loss to St. Louis on home ice, this loss was the back end of Minnesota's first back-to-back set of regulation defeats at Xcel Energy Center since Nov. 1 and 15.

• Hanzal assisted on Staal's tally in Hanzal's first game back after a bout of strep throat.

• Parise and Coyle earned assists on Dumba's goal.

• Lakeville native and former Gopher Brady Skjei scored the Rangers' first goal at 16:01 of the first period.

• Oscar Lindberg and Jimmy Vesey also added tallies for New York at 7:46 and 17:34 of the second period, respectively.

Devan Dubnyk finished the night with 27 saves. Raanta earned the win with 25.

He said it

"We knew we were gonna have a good jump coming back home. We were excited to play. I think if you watch the game, it explains itself. We had a lot of chances, and at some points, we're not making the right play, maybe, and it's costing us a lot. I think for the most part we were playing with a good jump, and like I said, we had a lot of chances." -- Erik Haula on what went wrong

They said it

"You know that they have those speedy guys and lots of skillful guys, so you always try to just be ready, especially in a power play where we usually use four forwards and just the one D, so you're always a little bit on your toes there. But the guys were doing great job there and they helped me in all those situations. There was always five guys coming back so that's a big help for a goalie." -- Antti Raanta on the Wild's power play opportunities

Three stars

* Ryan McDonagh

** Oscar Lindberg

*** Eric Staal

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