- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- This is a homestand the Rangers will want to forget. The Rangers lost for the third straight time at Madison Square Garden as they fell to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night. The Rangers are now 4-10-1 in their last 15 games.
WHY THIS GAME IS IMPORTANT: The Rangers need to start picking up points if they want to get one of those eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. In their last 15 games, they have accumulated nine of a possible 30 points. Entering Thursday, they were just one point ahead of eighth-place Carolina and just three points ahead of ninth-place Buffalo, but both teams have played fewer games than the Rangers. With Carolina defeating Buffalo on Thursday, the Rangers settled for zero points while the Hurricanes picked up two -- and leapfrogged New York.
IT'S NOT HALLOWEEN: It's usually not a good thing when the home team is getting booed off the ice after the second period, but that's the sound the Rangers left the ice to as they trailed 2-1. The Wild scored two goals in the period, including one on the power play, to suck the energy out of MSG. The Rangers even held a 25-11 shots advantage at that point, but it didn't matter to the fans. the Rangers were also booed at various points in the third period after Minnesota took its 3-1 lead.
OUT IN FRONT: Before the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella said his team needs to get off to faster starts. In each of the last two losses, the Rangers have trailed after the first period and never led in either game. Thursday, the Rangers finally scored in the first period. Erik Christensen parked himself behind the net and found a streaking Sean Avery down for the score to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 3:13 into the game.
STAY OUT OF THE BOX: Another point Tortorella made before the game was how the Rangers need to stay out of the penalty box. It cost the squad Sunday against Tampa Bay and once again hurt the Rangers against the Wild. After Christensen went to the box for high sticking, Minnesota tied the game off a deflection at 4:36 mark of the second period.
BUT DO SOMETHING WHEN THEY'RE IN THE BOX: The Rangers had four power play opportunities, but couldn’t score on any of them and are now just 11-of-59 in their past 15 games. When the other team converts their only power play opportunity, and you can’t score on your multiple attempts, that’s not a good sign.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: The Rangers outshot the Wild 41-19 but still lost by two goals. Wild goalie Jose Theodore stopped 40 shots.
UP NEXT: The Rangers head north of the border for a matchup against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night. Entering Thursday night, Ottawa was in last place in the Eastern Conference and had the second-fewest points in the NHL.
Recap | Box score | PhotosNEW YORK -- This is a homestand the Rangers will want to forget. The Rangers lost for the third straight time at Madison Square Garden as they fell to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Thursday night.