Tuesday, October 28, 2014
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Rangers stun Wild with third-period comeback

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[October 28, 2014]  NEW YORK -- Down 3-0 heading into the third period against the NHL's stingiest defensive club, the New York Rangers looked like the longest of long shots to come back and make a game of it with the Minnesota Wild, never mind win it.

On Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the long shot paid off.

The Rangers scored five goals in the final 17:08 against a team that previously allowed six goals all season, and New York stole a 5-4 victory from the jaws of a certain defeat.

Rookie left winger Anthony Duclair and left winger Mats Zuccarello scored 37 seconds apart in the final four minutes to tie and win the game, respectively.

"We were so bad," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said of the team's first two periods. "We were in here talking, and we were just going to go out swinging if we were going to go out.

"Three goals isn't a lot, especially at home. You can get one and start building off of it. The way we were playing, did I think we were going to come out and score five goals? No."

The comeback started when defenseman Kevin Klein scored his second of the season 2:52 into third period. Right winger Rick Nash made it 3-2 less than two minutes later with his league-leading ninth goal, but that momentum was dashed 47 seconds later when Wild left winger Jason Zucker scored his fifth of the season to extend the lead to 4-2.

The score remained that way for nearly 10 minutes until Duclair scored his first NHL goal with 3:48 remaining and Zuccarello got his first of the season with 3:11 to go to complete the improbable comeback.

The mountain was especially daunting for the Rangers, who lost defenseman John Moore and left winger Chris Kreider earlier in the game to ejections. Moore delivered an illegal to check to the head of left winger Erik Haula, and Kreider boarded defenseman Jonas Brodin in the final seconds of the first period.

Brodin returned to the game but Haula did not.

Playing with a shorter bench, the Rangers still found a way.

"It's not easy to come back at all in this league at any time," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "To come back from a three-goal deficit is obviously huge. (Center Derick Brassard's) line really took over that period, gave us momentum. ... Unfortunately in the first two periods, we had 14 (penalty) minutes to kill. It was tough."

And kill it the Rangers did, as the Wild failed to convert on two five-minute power plays and two minor penalties. The Wild are 0-for-24 on the power play this season, failing to score a goal in 52:21 with the man advantage.

"The frustration this power play has taken on a life of its own right now," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Then we come out of it and score a goal, then they come right back and get another one."

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The line of Brassard, Zuccarello and Nash combined for three goals and five assists in the third period. Vigneault called it "one of the best periods I've seen three guys play in a long time."

The first two periods were dominated by the Wild (4-3-0), who held a 24-8 edge in shots. Defenseman Nate Prosser, left winger Matt Cooke and right winger Jason Pominville gave the Wild a 3-0 lead that looked insurmountable.

However, Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who hadn't allowed more than two goals in any of his five starts, wilted in the third period. He stopped 15 of 20 shots to see his save percentage drop from .966 to .934 in the blink of an eye.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, whom Vigneault said spoke in the locker room during the second intermission, stopped 26 of 30 shots to help the Rangers improve to 5-5-0.

"I think it was more frustration than anger in here," Lundqvist said. "We talked about going out and playing with emotion and working extremely hard. This is our home ice, and we are going to show the fans how much we want to win, just how much we are willing to play for that.

"And we showed that in the third."

NOTES: Wild LW Zach Parise briefly left the game in the second period after a stick clipped him in the mouth and drew blood. ... Minnesota was without D Keith Ballard and D Christian Folin due to illnesses. ... Wild RW Kyle Brodziak, again a healthy scratch, has not played since Oct. 11. Brodziak had eight goals and 24 points in 81 games for the Wild last season. ... Minnesota concludes a two-game road swing in Boston on Tuesday. ... The Rangers scratched C Kevin Hayes, forcing RW Martin St. Louis to play center. ... Rangers C Derek Stepan (foot) remains out. He will be eligible to come off long-term injured reserve Nov. 3. ... Rangers D Dan Boyle (hand) isn't expected back until mid-November.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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