NEW YORK (AP) — Frederick Gaudreau scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Minnesota WIld beat the New York Rangers 3-2 Friday night following the jersey retirement ceremony for Henrik Lundqvist.
Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello— a former Ranger — each had a goal and an assist to extend their point streaks to 10 games, and Cam Talbot — a backup to Lundqvist for two seasons — stopped 25 shots for the Wild. Minnesota won for the seventh time in eight games (7-0-1).
Chris Kreider got his NHL-leading 31st goal and Barclay Goodrow also scored for New York, which led 2-0 after one period. Igor Shesterkin had 31 saves. The Rangers have lost two straight after winning nine of 12.
On the go-ahead goal, Gaudreau’s shot eluded Shesterkin at the 1:49 mark of the third for his third goal of the season.
“I just tried to get the shot on goal as quickly as possible and it went in,'' Gaudreau said.
The Rangers had a possible tying goal with 1.9 seconds left waved off because of goaltender interference.
“It's a tough call, a 50-50 call,'' Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”It would have loved if it went our way and it didn't. So we move on."
The Rangers, who entered the contest with a five-game winning home streak, initially rose to the occasion following the stirring pregame ceremony for Lundqvist, their franchise goalie who had his No. 30 raised to the Garden rafters before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,006.
Goodrow opened the scoring for the Rangers at 8:47 of the first period with his 10th goal of the season. Jacob Trouba and Ryan Strome assisted.
Kreider made it 2-0 with 2:52 remaining in the opening period after Talbot fumbled the puck in the crease and Kreider nudged it past him. Trouba and Mika Zibanejad assisted. Zibanejad has points in 10 of his last 11 contests.
The Rangers outshot the Wild 12-5 in the first. The Wild then dominated the second, outshooting the Rangers 19-7 and scoring twice to tie the game.
Fiala narrowed the deficit at 12:18 of the middle period, scoring his 12th goal of the season before Zuccarello knotted the contest 89 seconds later with a power-play goal.
The tying goal was the 13th of the season for Zuccarello, a fan favorite during his nine seasons in New York. Assists went to Kirill Kaprisov and Matt Boldy.
“We were great in the first period. They were great in the second,″ Gallant said. ”They got the extra goal. It was frustrating to watch the second and third periods the way we played the first"
The 34-year-old Zuccarello has five goals and 13 assists during his points streak while Fiala has eight goals and five assists.
“It was a great ceremony and to get the win, it was a great day for us,'' Zuccarello said referring to the Lundqvist jersey retirement. "I have a special relationship with the fans. They were great to me when I was there. They still are. I am in a great place now, Minnesota. I like everything about it. I have the best of both worlds.”
Wild coach Dean Evason said Zuccarello has been a difference-maker for his team in subtle ways.
“He says the right things. He's vocal in the right areas,'' Evason said. ”What he's doing with his work ethic is important for us."
The teams were meeting for first time since Feb. 13, 2020, a 4-3 Rangers shootout win at Minnesota. The Wild’s previous visit to New York was Nov. 25, 2019, a 3-2 win at MSG.
The Rangers, who were coming off a 5-3 loss at Columbus on Thursday, still have points in 15 of 19 home games this season. They will host Seattle and Florida before the All-Star break.
Lundqvist became the 11th Ranger to have his jersey number retired. He played for the team for 15 seasons (2005-20), appearing in 887 games and accumulating 459 wins with 64 shutouts. He has more than 50 team records, including wins, appearances by a goaltender and shutouts. Lundqvist joined Rod Gilbert (7), Ed Giacomin (1), Mike Richter (35), Mark Messier (11), Brian Leetch (2), Adam Graves (9), Andy Bathgate (9), Harry Howell (3), Jean Ratelle (19), and Vic Hadfield (11) as Rangers whose jersey numbers have been retired by the organization.
Zuccarello returned for the second time since his trade from the Rangers to Dallas in February 2019. Zuccarello was serenaded with choruses of “Zuuucc” every time he was shown on the giant screen above the ice. A close friend of Lundqvist, Zuccarello received loud applause as he took part in the pregame face-off with Zibanejad as Lundqvist, his wife and two daughters were at center ice for the drop.
NOTES: The teams meet again March 8 in Minnesota. ... The Rangers were without D Adam Fox for the first time this season. Fox, who leads the Rangers with 40 assists, was placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury after he was hurt Thursday night against Columbus. ... The Rangers scratched D Nils Lundkvist, F Filip Cytil and F Tim Gettinger. … The Wild scratched F Nico Sturm and F Nick Bjugstad.
Rangers: Host Seattle on Sunday.
Wild: Visit the New York Islanders on Sunday night.