Rangers edge Wild to clinch Metropolitan
St. Paul, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - J.T. Miller's third-period goal wrapped up a Metropolitan Division title for the New York Rangers, who skated past the Minnesota Wild 3-2 to clinch first place.
Rick Nash and Dominic Moore also scored in the victory, while Ryan McDonagh had a pair of assists in support of Henrik Lundqvist's 26 saves.
"(The division title) gives us confidence going forward," McDonagh said. "It's a good feeling."
The Wild rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit on goals from Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, but had their five-game win streak halted when Miller put New York back ahead 6:48 into the third.
Devan Dubnyk, making his 35th straight start for Minnesota, finished with 23 saves.
Vanek was in perfect position to tuck in the carom of Matthew Dumba's off- target blast and tie the game at 2-2 with 5:53 elapsed in the third period, but the Rangers quickly regrouped and broke the deadlock under a minute later.
Stationed in front of Dubnyk, Miller redirected a puck sent towards the net by McDonagh after the Wild weren't able to clear the puck from their own zone.
"It's unfortunate we couldn't keep it tied a little longer," Vanek said.
Lundqvist made the lead hold up with 10 third-period saves, including a good chance from Pominville with Dubnyk pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute.
Moore staked New York to an early 1-0 lead with a successful deflection of Carl Hagelin's drive a mere 2:09 after the opening faceoff. A high sticking penalty to the Wild's Justin Fontaine with 5:45 left in the first enabled the Rangers to extend the margin.
Just 22 seconds into the resulting power play, Dubnyk was unable to contain Nash's tough-angle shot from the right side to give the New York sniper his 41st goal of the season.
Minnesota got on the board when Dumba's sliding pass into the crease struck Pominville's right skate and crossed the line 5:24 into the second period.
The Rangers had a golden opportunity to further their lead when Minnesota's Ryan Suter received a double-minor for high-sticking Miller late in the second, owning a 5-on-3 advantage for a portion of the penalty. The Wild successfully killed off both calls, however, to keep the score at 2-1.
Rangers forward Martin St. Louis returned to action after missing eight straight games due to a lower-body injury ... Dumba assisted on both Minnesota goals ... The win was New York's 26th on the road this season, breaking the franchise's single-season record set by the 2013-14 team ... The Rangers improved to 16-1-1 when outscoring their opponent on special teams ... Vanek's goal was his eighth in 12 games ... Center Kyle Brodziak returned for the Wild after missing three straight with an upper-body injury.