ST. PAUL, MINN. — There’s an argument to be made about which club needed a win more Saturday night, when the skidding Wild met a depleted Rangers team on the Xcel Energy Center ice.
Minnesota was looking to stop the bleeding of a four-game losing streak, while the Blueshirts needed a pick-me-up after learning that they would be without their top defenseman and second-line center for some time.
It was ultimately the Wild who completed a gallant comeback behind shootout goals from Mats Zuccarello and Matt Boldy to take a 5-4 win over the Rangers, whose six-game winning streak was brought to an end as a result.
Without three lineup regulars in Adam Fox (long-term injured reserve), Filip Chytil (injured reserve) and Barclay Goodrow (paternity), the Rangers sat back on a 3-0 lead and had the Wild feeding off momentum from the end of the first period on.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has called for the Rangers to maintain offensive pressure despite holding a lead, but Minnesota appeared to want it more at times after falling into a deep hole early Saturday night.
After the Rangers enjoyed a three-goal surge and a Jonathan Quick masterclass early in the first period, the Wild took over by the end of it and dictated the pace of play through the middle frame.
Minnesota scored twice in the span of 29 seconds in the second period to cut the Rangers’ lead to one, both on plays that saw Quick lose his stick as the Rangers scrambled in their own zone.
The Wild managed to even the score with a goal from Zuccarello, a former Ranger, just 1:41 into the third period before Marco Rossi gave his team their first lead of the night later in the final frame.
Chris Kreider finally answered for the Rangers with his signature tip of an Artemi Panarin bomb from the top of the zone with 13:20 remaining in regulation.
The goal lifted Kreider over Andy Bathgate for the fourth-most goals in Rangers history.
The Rangers spent a majority of the final 20 minutes of regulation in their own zone, but held on to at least secure a point.
The Wild doubled the Rangers’ shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes, 14-7, but the visitors still went into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead.
Though they didn’t make it easy on themselves as they handed Minnesota three power-play opportunities, over which Quick made nine saves to keep the Wild off the board.
On three of their first four shots in the span of 3:17, however, the Blueshirts capitalized.
The new-look fourth line of Jimmy Vesey, Nick Bonino and Tyler Pitlick opened the scoring when Vesey, at the far post, knocked in a deflection off the stick of Pitlick.
Shortly after, Artemi Panarin flung the puck on net from the top of the circle to extend his season-opening point streak to 11 games.
The Rangers then generated a strong passing sequence on a 3-on-2 rush that ended up on the stick of a trailing Erik Gustafsson, who buried it for the 3-0 at the 6:53 mark of the first period.
Fans in attendance let the team know what they thought of their start to the game with an ambush of boos.
It forced the Wild to pull goalie Filip Gustavsson in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury, who could barely be considered cold after taking warmups not too long before entering the game.
This story originally appeared on NYPost