Skip to main content

Zherdev helps Rangers tame Wild

NEW YORK (AP) -- These points were all about the standings and

had nothing to do with style.

Locked in separate playoff races, the New York Rangers and

Minnesota Wild staged a fight of attrition that lacked grace,

but provided a big payoff for whichever team would survive.

That club was the Rangers, who pulled out a 2-1 win Tuesday

night and moved into a sixth-place tie in the Eastern

Conference.

"I know it wasn't the most exciting game for the fans, but

that's how you've got to play against a team like that," said

Rangers agitator Sean Avery, who had an assist and a fight.

"They play a system that's frustrating, but we just played

through it."

Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and an assist, and Scott Gomez also

scored for the Rangers (39-27-8), who bounced back from a 2-1

loss to Ottawa on Sunday and won for the eighth time in 11

games.

Zherdev gave New York its seventh straight 1-0 lead when he beat

the first-period clock and then helped set up Gomez's

second-period tiebreaking tally. New York is in a flat-footed

tie with Pittsburgh, five points ahead of ninth-place Florida,

with eight games remaining.

Henrik Lundqvist rebounded from Sunday's loss with a relatively

easy effort against the defensive-minded Wild. New York outshot

short-handed Minnesota 30-19.

"I thought we battled through the whole game," Wild coach

Jacques Lemaire said. "It looked good that they had a lot of

shots compared to us, but a lot of them were not dangerous.

Overall, everyone played good. (Niklas) Backstrom played good,

our defensemen played really well, but we lack the scoring. You

can see it."

Marian Gaborik, who scored five goals against Lundqvist and the

Rangers in the teams' last meeting on Dec. 20, 2007, lifted the

Wild into a 1-1 tie. It was Gaborik's first goal since returning

Sunday from a 38-game absence following hip surgery.

"I feel pretty good for the second game. Hopefully I can get

much better," Gaborik said.

The Wild, below the playoff cutoff line in the West, lost ground

in the opener of a four-game road trip -- falling for the third

time in five games. They will need Gaborik's offense to help

offset the loss of captain and leading scorer Mikko Koivu, who

will be out at least a week due to a knee injury sustained

Sunday.

Minnesota has scored the second-fewest goals in the West (184).

"Everyone has to step up their game and pull as a team," Gaborik

said. "We need to challenge each other and just go out there and

give everything. Responsibility and pressure come with it.

That's the way it goes."

Gomez made it 2-1 when he took a pass in the slot from Avery and

one-timed in his 16th goal at 2:24 of the second, 53 seconds

after Gaborik tied it with his fourth of the season in eight

games.

The Wild had nearly as many fights in the first period as shots.

Minnesota, held to three shots, got into a pair of scraps just

over 2 minutes apart late in the frame.

Avery got tangled with Cal Clutterbuck in front of the Wild net

and dropped the gloves with his Minnesota counterpart. Both

players removed their helmets, with Avery dramatically spinning

his onto the ice, before they engaged in punches.

It was Avery's first fight since rejoining the Rangers earlier

this month.

Rangers enforcer Colton Orr took on 37-year-old forward Owen

Nolan soon after, following a big collision in open ice. Nolan

seemed reluctant at first to take on the heavyweight, and Orr

was given an extra penalty for roughing. Minnesota's power play

was wiped out 22 seconds later when Antti Miettinen went off for

interference.

That set up 4-on-4 play, leading to Zherdev's goal that was a

product of patience.

Zherdev's shot was stopped by Backstrom, but Zherdev gained the

rebound near the left post. Backstrom was down on his right side

as Zherdev waited with the puck on his stick. As Backstrom waved

his gloved hand in the air, trying to provide a miniature

golf-like impediment, Zherdev calmly waited for an opening and

found a small one under the goalie's arm with 4.4 seconds left

in the first.

"You lose your patience against a Minnesota team, and the way

they play, and you allow them to transition, that's when they

get you," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "We played a

little bit of their game. We know they have injuries and they

tried to grind one out.

"They played well, but we didn't blow ourselves up in trying to

do too much in that neutral zone."

TOP HEADLINES

CA1_4094
Play

World Junior Championship Roundup: Canada, Sweden, Germany Snag First Wins

Canada and Sweden both won their first games of the World Junior Championship, while Germany bounced back with an important win over Austria on the second day of action in Edmonton.

20220810_191027

Oilers Superfan Ben Stelter Passes Away

Edmonton Oilers superfan Ben Stelter has passed away at the age of six after a battle with cancer, his father announced on Twitter.

USATSI_18103034
Play

NHL Hot Seat Radar: Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes have a deep team, but injuries in the crease plagued them last year. If the Hurricanes are going far this year, they'll need Frederik Andersen to stay healthy, at the very least.