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14.08.2018

Awful start dooms depleted Rangers to defeat in Minnesota.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Rangers are familiar with the idea of too many big mistakes undercutting an otherwise good effort. But they could never overcome one of their most shockingly bad starts this season, going down three goals in the opening 6:17 of the first period and eventually losing a 3-2 game to the...
Time: 00:04     Date: 14.02.2018
Last US Sport News: Awful start dooms depleted Rangers to defeat in Minnesota. NY Post 24 - US News

But they could never overcome one of their most shockingly bad starts this season, going down three goals in the opening 6:17 of the first period and eventually losing a 3-2 game to the Wild on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

The Rangers (27-25-5) had been playing better since the front office publicly declared its intention to be sellers in the lead-up to the Feb. 26 trade deadline. That announcement came Thursday, and the Blueshirts, showing quite a bit of gumption, had won their next two games.

But as they were preparing to face a Wild (31-19-6) team that was in the midst of a cutthroat race for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Alain Vigneault had been trying to get the Rangers to focus just on their own game.

“It’s a big challenge for us,” the coach had said before the game. “They’re one of the better teams in the NHL, they’re fighting hard also right now to get points. So we’re going to have to be real good.”

It had been a mercurial performance for the Blueshirts by the time they started the third period down, 3-2. That wasn’t such a bad place to be after such a poor start. They had a terrific second period that got them back in it, cutting the deficit to just one.

The Rangers have been ravaged with injuries, which included captain Ryan McDonagh (upper body), Marc Staal (cervical sprain), Pavel Buchnevich (concussion), Chris Kreider (rib resection) and Kevin Shattenkirk (knee surgery). Their blue line was littered with inexperience, coming in with a combined 584 career NHL games, the fewest in franchise history since the expansion era (1967-68) for a lineup with six defensemen.

Right-hander Ryan Sproul had been called up Monday to replace the newest injury, Steve Kampfer (broken hand), and Sproul made his Rangers debut while joining three players that were Wolf Pack blue-line mates this season — Anthony DeAngelo, Neal Pionk and John Gilmour.

Marcus Foligno had what became the game-winning goal for the Wild.Getty Images

“We expect our young defensemen to play to their strengths,” Vigneault had said. “They’re all guys that can skate and move the puck, so we want them to skate and move the puck. We’re going to go out there and compete real hard and it’s going to be a real good game.”

Yet it was the more experienced players that made the early mistakes, with veteran defenseman Nick Holden turning the puck over at the center line, leading to Eric Staal scoring on the Wild’s first shot of the game just 3:09 in. It was the 13th time this season goalie Henrik Lundqvist had given up a goal on one of the first three shots of the game.

It didn’t get any better when Rick Nash tried such an egregious cross-ice pass that it hit off the stick of Zach Parise and behind Lundqvist for a 2-0 Minnesota lead at 4:34. The deficit was extended to 3-0 at 6:17 when Marcus Foligno got a second opportunity and beat Lundqvist’s glove.

Soon after play resumed, Rangers rookie backup Alexandar Georgiev was told to put his helmet on and was getting ready to come in to replace Lundqvist, who had given up three goals on eight shots. But the Rangers got a power play, and Gilmour scored his first NHL goal at 8:50 to make it 3-1 and give the Rangers some life.

They then dominated the second period, outshooting the Wild 19-8. They finally made it a one-goal deficit when a deflected Kevin Hayes shot beat Dubnyk at 11:46, making it 3-2 going into the third.

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