Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.
If you missed the first 6:17 of the Rangers 3-2 loss to the Wild, consider yourself lucky.
With 3:09 gone by in the first period, Eric Staal reminded everybody why the Blueshirts shouldn’t have given up on him after they acquired him at the 2016 Trade Deadline.
Capitalizing off a Nick Holden turnover, Staal led a two-on-one odd man rush into the Rangers’ zone. Tony DeAngelo misplayed the odd man situation and Staal rifled the shot past Henrik Lundqvist; giving the Wild a 1-0 lead.
Roughly a minute-and-a-half later, Rick Nash turned the puck over 10 feet away from Lundqvist. And just like Staal a minute earlier, Zach Parise cashed in on the Blueshirts’ sloppiness.
Parise shot the puck at Lundqvist, who made the initial save, but Nash inadvertently crashed into Lundqvist’s skate and put the puck in his own net.
With a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game, Minnesota looked to be in total control.
During a television timeout, Head Coach Alain Vigneault called an impromptu team meeting and showed more raw emotion than he had at any point in his tenure as Rangers’ coach.
But the results of the meeting weren’t readily apparent when Marcus Foligno turned a third Blueshirts turnover — this one courtesy of Brady Skjei — into Minnesota’s third goal.
With his team trailing 3-0, Vigneault told rookie backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev to get his mask on as he was preparing to make a change.
And just as it appeared Lundqvist was headed to another early shower, the Rangers were granted a power-play.
Georgiev was told to wait as the Blueshirts attempted to score on the man advantage.
That was as close as Georgiev got as John Gilmour scored his first NHL goal off a beautiful feed from DeAngelo; cutting Minnesota’s lead to 3-1 and granting Lundqvist a reprieve.
The Rangers came out strong to start the second and 11:46 into the middle frame, they made the game interesting.
A series of penalties led to a Blueshirts’ power-play and Neal Pionk was ready to join Gilmour on the scoresheet.
A brilliant block by Pionk led to an odd man rush up the ice for the Rangers and he fed the puck to Kevin Hayes, who was coming down the off-wing.
A floater shot by Hayes fooled Devan Dubnyk just enough for the puck to squeak through Minnesota’s goalie; bringing the Blueshirts within 3-2.
However, that was as far as they got.
The Rangers followed a strong second period with a quiet third; registering only four shots on goal.
The 3-2 loss ended the Blueshirts mini two-game winning-streak. And it hurts even more when you realize nearly every team they’re chasing gained at least a point tonight.
BLUESHIRT BULLET POINTS
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Rangers were two-for-four on the power-play and one-for-one on the penalty-kill. The two-goal effort on the power-play was the Blueshirts’ third such game in their last six.
YOUNG GUNS: Neal Pionk and John Gilmour recorded their first NHL point and goal respectively. Gilmour’s rocket on the power-play put the Rangers on the scoreboard. And Pionk’s assist on Hayes’ second period marker brought the Blueshirts within 3-2. They are the first pair of Rangers defensemen to tally their first career NHL points in the same game since Andre Dore and Tom Laidlaw turned the trick on October 11, 1980 in Toronto.
The Rangers face John Tavares and the Islanders Thursday (Feb. 15) at Barclays Center. Game time: 7 p.m. ET. Broadcast: MSG Networks.
“We beat ourselves tonight,” said Henrik Lundqvist. “Other then the early turnovers, we played a strong game.”