Donato sparks Wild to much-needed 5-2 win at home
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Wild finally played like a team urgently scrapping to remain in the playoff picture. They have 10 games to prove it’s not too little too late.
Ryan Donato scored two goals and Devan Dubnyk had 26 saves as the Minnesota Wild beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Saturday night to stay in the thick of the playoff race.
Eric Staal, Jared Spurgeon and J.T. Brown also scored for the Wild, who snapped a three-game losing streak that dropped them out of the final wild card in the Western Conference. Minnesota entered the day three points behind Phoenix for the last spot. It was the Wild’s second win in 11 home games.
“At the end of the day, when it comes game time there’s not a lot of words being tossed around,” Donato said. “I think it’s just a call to action, we’ve got to make sure we come out and play hard. We didn’t do our job against Dallas and we knew we really had to win this one.”
The Wild dropped their previous three games by a combined 13-3 score, including a 3-0 loss to San Jose and 4-1 defeat to the Stars. Knowing the Rangers had played the night before in Calgary, the Wild wanted to make an early statement.
“Our start was huge tonight,” Minnesota’s Luke Kunin said. “We got the first goal, they came back and got one and I thought we did a good job of bouncing back and getting one and getting back into it. Just a good all-around effort tonight.”
The Wild won’t have to wait long to see if they can carry over the momentum — Minnesota welcomes the New York Islanders on Sunday night.
“Obviously it’s desperate times,” Staal said. “We need points. We need wins.”
Mika Zibanejad scored his first goal in nine games and Pavel Buchnevich added a third-period goal for the Rangers, who lost their third straight. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 41 saves and managed to keep the Rangers within striking distance.
“I loved our effort, I loved the way we worked,” Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “I think guys were hungry and desperate ourselves, we just had a lot of mistakes that fed them. Whether they went in or not, we just kept giving them momentum and not allowing ourselves to gain it ourselves.”
Donato’s wrister on a breakaway at 4:40 of the first period beat Lundqvist’s stick side to put Minnesota up 1-0. Zibanejad tied it 90 seconds later, catching Dubnyk out of position on a shot from behind the goal line that angled off the goaltender and into the net.
Donato was credited with a redirect on Luke Kunin’s shot with just under 4 minutes left in the first to reclaim the lead.
Staal made it 3-1 at 4:51 of the second after his attempted pass to Zach Parise hit off the outstretched Neal Pionk’s stick and into the net.
The only downside for Minnesota came in the second period, when Jason Zucker had to be helped off the ice after a scary collision behind the New York net with Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei. Zucker went down when Skjei fell on his right leg — he didn’t put any weight on the leg as he was helped off the ice, but returned later in the period.
Zucker wasn’t made available to reporters after the game.
“I haven’t heard anything on not being able to play,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Spurgeon’s power-play goal at 6:04 of the third gave him 13 for the season, the fourth-most single-season goals by a Wild defenseman. Brown added an empty-netter at 17:25.
NOTES: Donato has 11 points in 12 games with the Wild. He also notched his fourth point in two games against the Rangers with Minnesota this season. … Zibanejad established a new career high with his 28th goal this season. He’s also the first Rangers center to score at least 28 goals since Eric Lindros in 2001-02.
Rangers: Host Detroit on Tuesday night.
Wild: Host the New York Islanders on Sunday.