Rangers continue rough homestand against Wild

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers have done little damage through seven games of the longest homestand in club history, but they'll have a chance to get back in the win column when they host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

New York is just 1-4-2 so far on a nine-game homestand, dropping the Rangers to 6-10-2 this season at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts earned their lone win on this residency last Sunday with a 4-3 shootout victory against Calgary, but New York has lost two straight since, dropping a shootout decision against Pittsburgh on Wednesday before getting beat 5-3 on Friday by the rival New York Islanders.

The Rangers fell to an Islanders team that entered the contest with losses in 13 of its previous 14 games. It was the Isles' first regulation triumph since Nov. 12 against Nashville and their first regulation victory on the road since Oct. 25 in Pittsburgh.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped only 15-of-19 shots on Friday for the Rangers. Benoit Pouliot and Derek Stepan both connected on the power play in the loss, with Derek Dorsett also lighting the lamp for the Blueshirts, who allowed two short-handed goals in the setback.

"We gave the team that has a tremendous amount of speed in their penalty killers grade-A scoring chances and they made us pay for it," Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault remarked.

The Rangers will complete this lengthy stay at MSG in Monday's tilt against Toronto before heading out on a six-game road trip.

Minnesota, meanwhile, has struggled considerably as the road team this season, going 6-9-3 as the guest compared to a stout 14-3-2 mark in St. Paul. The Wild did not get off to a good start on a four-game road trip, as they dropped a 5-2 decision Thursday evening in Pittsburgh.

Olli Maatta scored a key short-handed goal on a penalty shot and collected one assist to help the Pens down the Wild. Jason Pominville and Dany Heatley scored for Minnesota in the loss. Niklas Backstrom surrendered five goals on 36 shots.

"I think my last game was pretty good and today I could have been better," Backstrom said. "If you play a good game or bad game, you want to be better next time. You try to learn from every game."

Minnesota played its first game since placing starting goaltender Josh Harding on injured reserve. Harding will miss some time in order to make an adjustment to his medication for multiple sclerosis.

Backstrom expects to get the start tonight and is 1-2-0 with a 3.04 goals against average in three career games against the Rangers. Lundqvist is 3-3-0 with a 2.76 GAA in six lifetime tests versus the Wild.

The Rangers have won two of the last three meetings against Minnesota and the Wild have lost four of its six all-time trips to the Big Apple. The Wild were able to halt a two-game road slide against New York when it posted a 3-1 win at MSG on March 3, 2011.