Familar names haunt Wild as Marian Gaborik, Ryan McDonagh spur Rangers
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Former Cretin-Derham Hall star Ryan McDonagh assisted on two of the New York Rangers' three goals, and a former Minnesota Wild star came back to haunt the home club.
Marian Gaborik, who for nine seasons was the Wild's one true superstar, scored his first goal in St. Paul for a team other than the Wild, as the Rangers broke a tie late to win 3-2.
The Wild's power play was the bright spot for the home fans, as they scored on both of their man-advantage opportunities, twice rallying to tie the game after the Rangers took 1-0 and 2-1 leads. But in the end, once again, the effort fell short.
"It's frustrating when all the chances are there and pucks are getting there, and you're getting those chances you want," said Wild forward Devin Setoguchi, who assisted on a Mikko Koivu goal. "When it's going good, (the puck is) going in...The word is frustration."
Gaborik doesn't like to look back, but one could see from the wide smile on his face when he finally got a goal versus the Wild, that playing well in this building again meant something.
"We didn't get a lot of momentum or a lot of forecheck like we wanted to, but we still got two points," said Gaborik, who now has 38 goals this season. In his best season with the Wild (2007-80) he had 42. "It feels special to come here, definitely. I had a great time here, so it's special to come in here...I heard boos (when I scored) which doesn't surprise me."
The other homecoming was on the Rangers' blue line, where McDonagh was playing his first game in his home state since a 2010 NCAA regional game he played here for Wisconsin. The St. Paul native said he'd purchased close to 80 tickets for friends and family, and they got to see his first two-point game of 2012.
"I felt comfortable in this rink," McDonagh said. "I've watched a lot of games here and been able to play a handful of games here. It's fun to play here at the pro level with a little different atmosphere."
The Wild looked comfortable for long stretches as well. For a team playing out the string, facing a Rangers club that has serious designs on its first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994, there was no quit, as the Wild took advantage of the two power plays. But like so much that has gone on this season, it was not quite enough by the time the final horn sounded.
"That's what I think angers you," Yeo said. "That's why I'm not in a very good mood right now because we do a lot of good things and we just give them a freebie."
Leave an opponent alone in front of your goalie, and bad things will happen. Late in a 2-2 tie game, the Wild lost track of Ruslan Fedotenko in front of the their own net, and a bad thing happened. McDonagh found Fedotenko all alone and zipped a pass across the offensive zone, where Fedotenko had half the net to hit. His ninth goal of the year was the game winner as the Rangers stayed solidly atop the Eastern Conference standings with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
"In a 2-2 game you have to be ready. That can't happen," Yeo said, failing to single out which of his players had missed their defensive responsibility. "When you're focused and you're ready to play and you're in that situation, that can't happen. That's what maddening."
• 5: Power play goals by Brodziak this season. He had three in his career prior to the 2011-12 campaign.
• 30: Teams that Gaborik has scored at least one goal against. He had never scored against the Wild prior to Tuesday.
• 12/10/11: The last time the Wild had two power play goals in a game, a 4-1 win in Phoenix.
• 16: The sweater number Jason Zucker will wear when he makes his Wild debut on Thursday.
It would hardly be an official Wild practice without another major injury to announce. On Tuesday morning, Yeo told reporters after practice that center Matt Cullen was done for the season after suffering a broken finger in the Wild's loss at Buffalo last weekend. Cullen will finish the season - his second playing in his home state - with 14 goals and 21 assists in 73 games for the Wild.
Rangers - Brian Boyle 8 (Dubinsky, Stralman), 11:23
Rangers - Ruslan Fedotenko 9 (McDonagh, Girardi), 13:37
Shots: Wild 6-13-7-26; Rangers 13-9-10-32. Saves: Wild, Josh Harding (29-32); Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist (24-26). Power plays: Wild 2-for-2, Rangers 0-4.
If you followed hockey at all in the Twin Cities prior to 1993, you may have noticed two things: 1) There is more Minnesota North Stars merchandise seen on the streets and in the rinks of the region now than there was when the team still existed, and 2) The Wild have done little in more than a decade to acknowledge that the North Stars existed for 26 years.
That changes on Thursday, when the Wild will host a North Stars reunion in conjunction with their home game versus the Florida Panthers. More than 35 players who skated with the Stars between 1967 and their departure for Dallas in '93 are scheduled to attend.