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The Wrap: Rangers up 3 in East

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30), of

New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30), of Sweden, turns aside the puck during the third period. (March 27, 2012) (Credit: AP)

               ST. PAUL, Minn.---Quite a homecoming for Ryan McDonagh, who I wrote extensively about earlier. Two assists, with one on the gamewinner in  the third.

              "It felt comfortable in this rink, I've been able to play a handful of games here, really just happy that I had a lot of family of friends here who supported me, it's just great to come out on top. The phone was ringing off the hook."

               On his play on the winning goal: "It's starts with out forecheck, I felt the forward was charging out to me, so I chipped it to myself, came down the boards. In our system, when I'm going down the boards a lot of times, I know guys are going to be down there, so I just tried to throw it in front. Went off a guy's stick and it was great to see Feds bury that one."

              Here's the gamer, followed by some more quotes:

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                It’s back to three.

               With a 3-2 defeat of the Wild here tonight, coupled with a 5-3 loss by the Penguins to the Islanders in Pittsburgh, the Rangers extended their lead in both the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division to three points. Both the Rangers and Penguins have six games to play, with a head-to-head matchup in CONSOL Energy Center next Thursday.

                  Ruslan Fedotenko, playing in his second game after being a healthy scratch for two, slipped between Darroll Powe and Nate Prosser in front and buried a pass from St. Paul native Ryan McDonagh, who came down the left wing wall, at 13:37 of the third period to snap a 2-2 tie. It was McDonagh’s second assist of the game in his homecoming and Fedotenko's ninth goal of an up-and-down season..             

                The Blueshirts 48-21-7 (103 pts), who defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-3, in the shootout on Saturday at Air Canada Centre, have won four of the last five games. The Wild 31-35-10 (72 pts) have lost six of the last eight games.

                 With the score tied early in the third period, Brandon Prust’s close-range shot was deflected by goaltender Josh Harding up against the post and cleared. But the Wild, who have been eliminated from the playoffs, would not go away, Henrik Lundqvist (24 saves) had to stop Devin Setoguchi from the doorstep halfway through the third.

                 The Rangers remain on the road. They travelled north after the game to Winnipeg. They are 3-0 against the Jets and edged them 2-1 in Winnipeg back in early October. Tonight’s game will close out their final back-to-back series of the season.

                 Brian Boyle gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 11:23 of the first period, knocking in a rebound from in front of the crease after Brandon Dubinsky’s shot from the right side hit the far post. Anton Stralman, in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for five games was awarded the other assist on Boyle’s eighth goal and second in three games.

               With the score tied at 1 in the second period on Kyle Brodziak’s power play rebound at 3:05, Marian Gaborik, the Wild’s all-time fran­chise leader in goals, assists and points, took a backhand pass from Brad Richards and wristed his 38th of the season past  Harding, low glove side, for a 2-1 lead at 7:58.

                But Marc Staal went off for interference and the Wild rallied again, scoring on their second power play as Mikko Koivu, open at the right post, lofted a shot above Lundqvist, who was starting his sixth consecutive game, to tie the game at 11:52 of the second.Warren Peters was whistled for hooking McDonagh at 15:35 of the second, but again, the Rangers could not convert on their fourth man-advantage, with only six shots total.

                 The game marked a homecoming of sorts for three native Minnesotans:  McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and defenseman Stu Bickel, each of whom had dozens of family and friends in the arena. And it ended up being a happy one.

               The teams split two games last season, each winning on opposing ice, with Martin Biron making 26 saves in a 5-2 win here on Nov. 20. The Wild earned a 3-1 victory at the Garden, with the game-winner coming from Casey Wellman, who the Rangers acquired in a Feb. 3 trade for Erik Christensen.

 

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And now those quotes.

 

Tortorella on McDonagh: “He is a guy who wants to extend himself offensively, he’s made tremendous improvements in that. He and Danny (Girardi) have probably been out steadiest d-pair all along. The minutes he racks and who he’s playing against at such a young age, it’s really good."

 

Tortorella on Boyle, who was given the Broadway hat: “It was one of his more physical games, he made a huge defensive play in the corner late in the game, I think he has six shots, 10-5 on faceoffs. This is a guy who continues to grow, he’s been a huge cog for us for quite a while.”

 

Marian Gaborik: “It wasn’t a pretty game to watch. But we got two points, which is huge.”

 

Gaborik on his goal: “We had a set up play, I got it on my backhand, put it on my forehand and got a good shot. It’s always nice to score in this building.” 

 

Boyle: “After the second period, we weren’t paying any attention to standings. We just had to come out with a good third period. We don’t expect anyone to give up in this league.”

 

The special teams battle was lost though: Wild was 2-2 on the PP. Rangers 0-for-4 on the PP.

 

And Torts on Anton Stralman's first game back after five on the pine:  

"He played better. You may see him a little more on the power play, even with the first group. You can see as far as the cie time goign into the thrid period and in the third period, we kept him in it. I thought he was stronger on the puck; screwed up one time for one draw when he got stripped. But I thought he was stronger on the boards and made some good outlet passes." 

                   

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