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  • 2/23 RECAP: Granlund Almost Nets a Hat Trick in Victory Over Rangers

    Heather Rule

    The script has been flipped on the whole “Minnesota Wild are a good home team and are awful on the road” narrative.


    At least for now.


    They swept their three-game New York road trip with a 4-1 win against the New York Rangers (27-30-5) at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, getting all six possible points and bumping themselves into third place in the Central Division. They’ll stay there at least for the night with Dallas sitting idle.


    The victory was the fourth in a row for the Wild on the road. They haven’t lost away from home since that 6-1 defeat in Dallas on Feb. 3. Overall, they’ve won five of their past seven games.


    Additionally, Mikael Granlund was on top of his game all night. He scored a pair of goals and assisted on the other two goals. Granlund broke out of an 11-game goal-less slump by bookending the Wild’s scoring effort with goals in the first and third periods.


    “When he’s on and he’s feeling it like that… he’s a threat to do something good with it,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “It was fun to watch, especially after he got his first goal.”


    Eric Staal scored the other two goals in the game and added two assists. He and Granlund each tallied four-point nights, the first time anyone on the Wild roster has done so this season. Though for most of the game, Granlund was listed as the scorer on the Wild’s second goal.


    So when he finished off a two-on-one opportunity on a pass from Jason Zucker for the Wild’s final goal at 9:22 of the third period, it looked like Granlund would get credit for his third career hat trick.


    Instead, the scoring change was announced in the closing minutes, giving the goal to Staal who had tipped the pass from Zach Parise into the net.


    Granlund’s first goal came late in the first period off a feed from Staal behind the net.


    The Wild (34-20-7) took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but the Rangers’ Jesper Fast cut the lead to one with a goal just 2:41 into the second period. Staal got his second of the game – his 29th of the year – 52 seconds into the third on the power play.


    The Wild continued to pressure throughout the game and coasted to a relatively easy victory to wrap up the road trip.


    “We turned the puck fast the other way… it was fun to get some offense going,” Granlund said.


    Not only did the great night for Granlund snap his goal drought, but he also came in with just two assists in the past seven games. He’s still second on the team in points, now with 17 goals and 32 assists for the season. With a Ryan Suter assist on the night, he still leads the team with 33, just one ahead of Granlund.


    Staal and Granlund also each tallied seven shots on goal for a team-high. So the offensive spark between them is a tie.


    Boudreau also changed up the lines quite a bit, putting Granlund, Staal and Zucker together. It seemed to work well. Staal has played with a variety of players in the different line combinations, and Boudreau said he’s never complained about it.


    “Every time Zuck gets on with Staalzy, they seem to generate something,” Boudreau said. “They were pretty good.”


    In goal:

    Devan Dubnyk (25-11-5) with 22 saves on 23 shots. Alexandar Georgiev (0-2-0) with 33 saves on 37 shots.


    The Wild won back-to-back games for the first time this season. They’re 5-4-1 on the first night and improved to 4-5-1 on the second night.

    There wasn’t much in terms of special teams. The first penalty wasn’t called until late in the second, and the Wild went 1 for 1 on the advantage. The Rangers went 0 for 1.

    The win was just the fourth at Madison Square Garden for the Wild. They’re 4-7-0 against the Rangers on the road and 10-13-1 overall.

    Up next:


    The Wild return home to face San Jose on Sunday and the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.




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