NEW YORK — The Minnesota Wild have been thriving lately on the road to keep pace in the Central Division. After smothering the Rangers 4-1, they completed a three-game sweep in the New York area.
Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal each scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in the Wild's victory over the free-falling New York Rangers on Friday night. The Wild also beat the Islanders on Monday night and New Jersey on Thursday night.
"Well, it obviously means getting six points, but we have never done that before," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Anytime you do something you haven't done before, it's pretty cool."
The Rangers lost for the sixth straight time in regulation. New York is 6-17-0 since beating Buffalo in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.
"In my mind, we worked hard. We just weren't able to make the plays that we needed to make to get something out of that," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said.
Granlund opened the scoring for Minnesota at 16:06 of the first period after Staal intercepted a terrible breakout pass attempt by Rangers defenceman Anthony DeAngelo. Staal passed to Granlund, who easily put the puck past rookie netminder Alexandar Georgiev.
Georgiev played his second NHL game after making his debut Thursday night in a 3-1 loss at Montreal.
Staal made it 2-0 at 18:43. The goal was originally credited to Granlund but was changed to Staal late in the third period.
The Rangers narrowed the deficit to 2-1 when Jesper Fast scored his ninth of the season at 2:41 of the second.
Staal made it 3-1 for the visitors 52 seconds into the third period with a power-play goal — his team-leading 29th — of the season. Defenceman Ryan Suter and Granlund had assists.
Eric Staal had a short stint with the Rangers two seasons ago, joining his brother Marc in New York but only recording only three goals in 20 games and none in the playoffs.
"There's always motivation every night," Eric Staal said. "You always want to prove yourself. Tonight was one of those nights we caught them with some great plays and we were fortunate to be able to capitalize."
Granlund, made it 4-1 at 9:22 of the third with his 17th goal of the season.
"Obviously, it's always nice to score," said the 25-year-old Finnish forward who was drafted ninth overall by the Wild in 2010. "It's nice to get some offence going."
Minnesota is 6-1-2 in its last eight games. The Wild are in playoff position in a tight Central Division race.
Rangers forward Rick Nash didn't dress for the second straight game. The 33-year-old Nash, whose contract expires after this season, is expected to be traded by Monday's deadline.
He has 18 goals and 10 assists this season and is one point shy of 800 for his career. Nash scored against the Flyers in last Sunday's 7-4 home loss. He was also a healthy scratch for Thursday's loss at Montreal.
The Rangers traded forward Michael Grabner — their leading goal scorer — to the Devils late Thursday after sending defenceman Nick Holden to the Boston Bruins earlier in the week.
The Rangers are facing late-season games without playoff-race meaning for the first time since 2004 when they also made numerous deadline trades. They have only missed the playoffs once since 2005-06, in 2010 when the Rangers missed out on the last day of the season in a shootout loss at Philadephia.
"We're in a results-oriented business," Vigneault added. "The effort and preparation is there. We just have to stay with it."
NOTES: Forward Chris Kreider returned for the Rangers after missing 24 games with blood clot in right arm. Kreider last played Dec. 27 against Washington. ... The Wild are 4-7-0 at Madison Square Garden ... Minnesota scratched forward Chris Stewart and defencemen Jonas Brodin and Gustav Olofsson ... The Rangers continued to be without injured defencemen Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan McDonagh and Steven Kampfer.
Wild: Host San Jose on Sunday night.
Rangers: Host Detroit on Sunday night.