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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 3, Wild 2

By Mike Mazzeo



WHAT IT MEANS: The Rangers have a three-point lead over the Penguins in the race for the No. 1 seed in the East -- and they have the Islanders to thank. The Isles upset the Penguins 5-3 on Tuesday night, and shortly after that, the Rangers took care of business in Minnesota, beating the Wild 3-2.

Ruslan Fedotenko snapped a nine-game scoreless streak, notching the game-winning goal with 6:23 remaining. The third-line right winger’s last goal came on March 4 against Boston.

New York (48-21-7, 103 points) and Pittsburgh (47-23-6, 100) both have six games left in the regular season.

RETURN MAN: Playing in his second game against his former team as a Ranger, Marian Gaborik scored his 38th goal of the season to give New York a 2-1 lead in the second period.

Brad Richards found the 30-year-old winger in front with a brilliant blind backhanded pass from the rear boards. Gaborik kicked the puck from his backhand to his forehand and fired a quick shot that found the back of the net.

Gaborik, who has six goals in his last nine games, is the Wild’s all-time leading scorer (219 goals, 218 assists, 437 points).

THIRD WATCH: Third-liners Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky were all over the ice.

The duo combined for the first goal of the game. Dubinsky hit the post with a shot, but Boyle was right there to pound in the rebound for his eighth of the season and second in the past three games at 11:23 of the first. Dubinsky has five points in his past five games.

THANKS, HANK! Making his sixth straight start, Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves to improve to 36-16-5. He had allowed seven goals in his previous two starts, and came in with an .888 save percentage in the month of March.

PENALTIES KILL: Kyle Brodziak (20th) and Mikko Koivu (11th) each notched game-tying power-play goals for the Wild.

ROBBED: Ryan Callahan appeared to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 10:13 of the opening frame, but one of the referees blew the whistle beforehand because he couldn’t find the puck.

I’M COMING HOME: Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh both grew up in Minnesota. McDonagh, who had two assists -- including a pretty cross-ice setup to Fedotenko after he stepped up in the play -- was named 2007 Minnesota Mr. Hockey.

HE’S BACK: Anton Stralman returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the previous five games, and skated on a defensive pairing with Michael del Zotto. He garnered a secondary assist on Boyle’s tally.

NO SOUP FOR YOU: Former Ranger Erik Christensen was held off the scoresheet.

UP NEXT: Rangers at Jets, Wednesday at 7 p.m.