Coming off the most lackluster effort of his rookie season, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist may be glad to be back on home ice.
Lundqvist will likely get the chance to help New York extend its home winning streak to five games as it faces the Minnesota Wild in the season’s only meeting between the teams.
New York has not won five straight at Madison Square Garden since Nov. 6-20, 2001—a run that started with a victory over Minnesota.
Lundqvist was pulled for the first time this season Saturday after allowing a season-high five goals in 49 minutes of a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals, ending the Rangers’ hopes for their first seven-game winning streak overall since the 1993-94 Stanley Cup-winning season.
“From the first minute, they were all over the place and it was just a matter of time until they were going to score,” said New York’s Jaromir Jagr, who assisted on rookie Petr Prucha’s power-play goal with 1:43 remaining.
At the Garden, though, Lundqvist has been dominant, posting a 7-1 record with a 1.42 goals-against average and .951 save percentage. He also recorded his only career shutout there, blanking the Florida Panthers on Oct. 17.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will be looking for its third straight win over the Rangers after losing its first five matchups since joining the NHL in 2000-01.
The Wild lost the second game of their current five-game road trip Saturday, falling 3-2 in a shooutout the New Jersey Devils. Viktor Kozlov beat Wild goaltender Manny Fernandez for the only shooutout tally.
“That’s what a shootout does to you,” Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. “(The Devils) didn’t play their best game and they come out with the win. That’s why I don’t like shootouts.”
Rolston has scored four of his 10 lifetime goals against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 4): Wild - 24 points, 5th place, 12 PB, Northwest Division. Rangers - 37 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Wild - Rolston, 10 goals; Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 13 assists; Rolston and Bouchard, 20 points; Derek Boogaard, 53 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 21 goals and 41 points; Martin Straka, 22 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 40 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 4): Wild - Power play: 19.2 percent (26 for 135), 9th in NHL. Penalty killing: 89.5 percent (129 for 144), 1st. Rangers - Power play: 16.9 percent (28 for 165), 19th. Penalty killing: 86.6 percent (156 for 180), 3rd.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Wild, 2-0.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Wild - 3-7-3 on the road; Rangers - 9-2-2 at home.