Rapid Reaction: Rangers 4, Wild 1

December, 22, 2013
NEW YORK -- The Rangers delivered a decisive, commanding effort in Sunday night’s 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, salvaging some pride in what has otherwise been a dreadful homestand. The Blueshirts rallied from an early 1-0 hole with a game-tying power-play goal in the first and never looked back. Instead of protecting a 3-1 lead in the third period, the Rangers kept pushing. Chris Kreider’s goofy goal provided a nice cushion in the final frame and tied him with Brad Richards for the team lead in goals (9).

Backup netminder Cam Talbot, making his first start in nine games, stopped 24 of 25 shots as the Rangers collected the first regulation win at Madison Square Garden since the beginning of a nine-game homestand that ends Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Second-period swing: After giving up the game’s first goal to Minnesota just 4:08 into play, the Rangers responded with three straight goals, two of which came in a spirited second period. Taking over the middle frame, the Rangers dominated the Wild and snapped a 1-1 draw on Carl Hagelin’s shot from the right circle at 11:26. The Rangers extended their lead to 3-1 with an end-to-end rush by Derick Brassard that set up Mats Zuccarello for a one-timer in front with 1:25 remaining. Both Hagelin and Zuccarello are now just one goal shy of the team lead with eight goals apiece on the season. Brassard finished the night with two assists.

Not happy about hit: The Rangers were not pleased with Matt Cooke’s hit on Zuccarello late in the first period. Cooke caught Zuccarello with a hard, although clean hit that dumped the diminutive forward. Zuccarello’s teammates immediately took exception, with John Moore leading the way and chasing Cooke down. According to MSG’s John Giannone, who is stationed between the benches, Cooke taunted the Rangers after the play and said “those hits are allowed in pee wee.”

Not in net: After making a season-high eight consecutive starts, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist watched from the bench Sunday night with backup Talbot between the pipes. The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner has struggled this season, and his decline has coincided neatly with the Rangers’ abysmal performance during this homestand. Prior to Sunday’s match, the Blueshirts registered only one (shootout) win in the first seven games of the nine-game stretch.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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