Rangers defenseman Adam Fox controls the puck as Wild right...

Rangers defenseman Adam Fox controls the puck as Wild right wing Ryan Hartman defends during the second period of an NHL game Tuesday in St. Paul, Minn. Credit: AP/Andy Clayton-King

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Alexandar Georgiev strode into the postgame interview room following the Rangers’ 5-2 loss Tuesday night to the Minnesota Wild with his head held high. It couldn’t have been fun for him, not after he’d just allowed all five goals, on 28 shots. But he was willing to face the music.

"It was a pretty tough game, and the other team was hungry,’’ said Georgiev, who lost his fifth straight start and fell to 7-9-2 on the season. "We knew they were not having the best record lately, and they just came out strong... We didn't get the bounces our way.’’

The Wild had gone 2-8 in their previous 10 games, but at the morning skate, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant had said he expected Minnesota to have its best game against the Rangers. He was right, and unfortunately for him and Georgiev, the Rangers weren’t able to match it.

Kevin Fiala had two goals, and Marcus Foligno had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who took a 2-0 lead in the first period, and then, after the Rangers tied it, 2-2 in the second, then reeled off three straight to finish the second period with a 5-2 lead.

On Monday, Gallant had agreed with the notion that the Rangers’ No. 1 goaltender, Igor Shesterkin, should be considered seriously as a candidate for the Hart Trophy, as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. But then Tuesday, he gave Shesterkin the night off and started Georgiev, who had started only once in the previous 40 days, and who had lost his last four starts. As Shesterkin has continued to put up crazy numbers – his 1.93 goals-against average and his .942 save percentage both lead the NHL – Gallant has given him more and more ice time.

And that meant Georgiev has gotten less and less. With no chance to get into any kind of rhythm, his goals-against average has steadily gone up, and his save percentage has gone down. Everyone understands the situation, but what choice does Gallant have?

"It's got to be tough on (Georgiev),’’ Gallant said. "It is what it is. I mean, we're all about winning hockey games, and doing the best we can to win every game, every night. And it's the way it is, you know? It's tough on him, you feel for him a little bit, and hopefully he's going to get a win here sooner or later and, and you know, get back at it.

"And he doesn't get many games, but that's the NHL right now,’’ he continued. "We're trying to worry about wins, and we can't worry about every individual player. But he's a man. He'll own up, and he'll play his games and he'll get his opportunities. And like I said, I still feel very good about him.’’

Georgiev was tested early in the game, with a couple of shots from in close that he handled fine. But Ryan Hartman beat him with a long shot from the top of the slot at 10:38 to put Minnesota up, 1-0, and Joel Eriksson Ek made it 2-0 at 14:41 when he got position in the slot and deflected a rising shot by Foligno.

Dryden Hunt’s first goal since Dec. 1 – ending a 30-game drought – got the Rangers on the board at 5:03 of the second period, and then Mika Zibanejad stripped his friend and former Rangers teammate Mats Zuccarello of the puck and scored his first shorthanded goal of the season to tie it 2-2 at 8:07.

But just as it appeared the Rangers had snatched the momentum, the Wild took it back almost immediately, when Fiala scored on the same power play where Zibanejad had scored shorthanded. That gave the Wild the lead again, at 9:13, and the Wild added breakaway goals by Foligno, at 13:06, and Fiala at 17:44 to make it 5-2.







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