Wild chase Lundqvist, beat Rangers 7-4 for 10th straight win
NEW YORK (AP) — The Minnesota Wild are red hot.
So, too, is New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. For a completely different reason.
Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter and Marco Scandella scored in a 5-minute span early in the second period, and the Wild beat the Rangers 7-4 on Friday night for their franchise-record 10th straight win.
“I think that’s pretty cool,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Anytime you do something that is a record, it’s great. The way we had to do it, winning games nine and 10 in Montreal and New York, I think was pretty special.”
Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Matt Dumba and Charlie Coyle also scored for the Wild (21-8-4), who chased Henrik Lundqvist with four goals on 13 shots.
Coyle added three assists, while Koivu and Zucker had three points apiece. Eric Staal (two assists) and Granlund both finished with two points.
“The pucks are going in,” Koivu said. “We’ve been able to play (well) throughout the year.”
Darcy Kuemper made 31 saves in his seventh start of the season. His most notable stop was a diving, sprawling, glove save on a loose puck in the blue paint 6 1/2 minutes into the third period.
While the Wild are surging, New York dropped to 23-12-1 with its second consecutive loss in regulation.
Chris Kreider scored twice for the Rangers, who also got goals from Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan.
“There’s no excuse,” said Vigneault, who hinted he could make lineup changes. “We had one line — (Stepan’s) line — bring out their ‘A’ game and the rest weren’t good enough from the goaltender on out.
“Just had one line going.”
Minnesota played Thursday night in Montreal, while the Rangers had been off since Tuesday. Yet it was the Wild who had the better of play for most of the game.
Essentially, the Wild took control in the opening 4:55 of the second period as they scored three times and sent Lundqvist to the bench.
Koivu and Niederreiter scored in an 18-second span to turn a 1-all tie into a 3-1 lead.
McDonagh’s second of the season at 2:17 cut the deficit to 3-2, but Scandella’s first 2:38 later allowed the Wild to regain their two-goal advantage and prompted Vigneault to replace Lundqvist with Antti Raanta.
“I have to play more on my toes,” Lundqvist said. “I just have to find a way to be more on my toes in a game like this.”
The goaltending change did not spark the Rangers, as Zucker pushed the margin to 5-2 with his eighth of the season at 12:14. Dumba’s power-play goal at 17:24 completed Minnesota’s second-period outburst of five goals on 11 shots.
“The second period,” Vigneault said. “The first four shots, three went in. It snowballed from there.”
Stepan scored with a minute left in the second and Kreider netted his second of the game with 3 minutes left.
Coyle’s empty-netter with 1:09 remaining ended the scoring.
“We want to play aggressive,” Coyle said. “We want to put pucks in nets.”
New York led 1-0 on Kreider’s goal at 3:54 of the first, but Granlund equalized 6 minutes later with an unassisted goal from the left circle.
New York outshot Minnesota 31-20. The Wild were 1 for 1 on the power play, while the Rangers went 0 for 2.
Raanta finished with five saves on eight shots.
“We have some major areas to clean up,” Stepan said. “We have to make adjustments. We have to be honest about our game and where it’s at.”
NOTES: Rangers forward Rick Nash missed his second straight game with a groin injury. Prior to Tuesday night’s 7-2 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh, Vigneault estimated Nash would miss three games. ... Along with Nash, New York did not have RW Pavel Buchnevich or C Mika Zibanejad due to injuries. Buchnevich has missed 21 games with a back injury, and Zibanejad has not played in 17 games due to a broken leg. ... D Brady Skjei was the Rangers’ lone scratch. ... The Wild scratched D Christian Folin. ... LW Erik Haula missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury. LW Zach Parise sat out his second game in a row due to illness, the team said. ... Among the 18,006 in attendance were former Ranger Martin St. Louis, New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek and actor Cuba Gooding Jr.
Wild: Off until Tuesday, when they play at Nashville.
Rangers: Off until Tuesday, when they host Ottawa.