New York Rangers led by streaking Chris Kreider face ‘fragile’ Minnesota Wild

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Jan 28, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) and Minnesota Wild right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) fight for the puck during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers will go for their fourth win in a row when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night in Saint Paul, Minn.

New York is coming off a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. That contest marked the start of a four-game road trip that also includes stops in St. Louis and Dallas.

In their past three games, the Rangers have outscored opponents 12-5.

Chris Kreider leads New York Rangers goal parade

Chris Kreider has played a key role in New York’s latest success, as he has all season. Kreider scored his 37th and 38th goals of the 2021-22 campaign in the win over Winnipeg.

The 30-year-old has matched his career high in points with 53. He needs one more point to reach 400 for his career.

“He’s rolling pretty good,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “Big power-play goal (Sunday), and then he scores another nice goal. So the big guys are scoring key goals at key times, and it put us in control of that game pretty good.”

New York is led in scoring by Artemi Panarin, who has 61 points (15 goals, 46 assists) in 51 games. Mika Zibanejad has 58 points (22 goals, 36 assists) in 56 games, and Adam Fox has 55 points (seven goals, 48 assists) in 53 contests.

This is the second meeting of the regular season between the teams. Minnesota won the first matchup 3-2 on Jan. 28 in New York.

If anyone forgot, that was the night the Wild spoiled Henrik Lundqvist’s jersey retirement ceremony.

Gerard Gallant not worried about Igor Shesterkin

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers’ top netminder is Igor Shesterkin, who is 28-6-3 with a 1.93 GAA and a .942 save percentage. Backup Alexandar Georgiev is 7-8-2 with a 3.05 GAA and an .897 save percentage.

Igor has started 8 of 9 games coming out of the team’s prolonged All-Star Break, which has some wondering if he will be overworked.

“What does he need a day off for?” Gallant jokingly said. “He can take practice off any time he wants, just like any of my players.”

“He’s not going to play every game– trust me,” he said. “He’ll be fine!”

K’Andre Miller excited for homecoming

K’Andre Miller is a St. Paul, Minnesota native and looking forward to his first NHL game in front of family in friends.

Miller, 22, is coming into his own by avoiding the dreaded sophomore jinx. In 56 games, he’s scored 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points while playing top 4 minutes with partner Jacob Trouba.

“I’m very excited. I have a lot of family and friends coming out, so it should be a fun experience,” Miller said. “My family is really excited to support me. It’ll be really special.”

This won’t be the first time he’s actually skated at the Xcel Energy Center either.

“I think the only two times I’ve been on this ice was when I was 9 and my mom surprised me with a birthday party and ride on the zamboni,” Miller fondly recalled. “The other was a “Skate with the Wild” when I was like 5.”

Read: Ranking the NYR Trade Deadline targets

Rangers facing a ‘fragile’ Wild squad

As the Rangers look to keep rolling, Minnesota is hoping to snap out of a recent funk.

The Wild are coming off a 6-3 loss against the Dallas Stars on Sunday and have stumbled to a 2-8-0 record over their past 10 contests.

Minnesota head coach Dean Evason acknowledged his team’s worst slump of the year.

“We are a fragile group right now,” he said.

There still is time for the Wild to find their footing heading toward the playoffs. A fast start to the season put the team in a good position for the postseason, but nothing is guaranteed as Minnesota has slipped to third place in the Central Division.

Kirill Kaprizov leads the Wild in scoring with 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 53 games. Mats Zuccarello is next with 56 points (17 goals, 39 assists) in 46 games, and Kevin Fiala is third on the team with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 54 games.

Minnesota is looking for improvement from both of its goaltenders, who have slumped as of late. Cam Talbot is 20-12-1 with a 2.98 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage on the season, and Kaapo Kahkonen is 12-7-2 with a 2.86 GAA and a .912 save percentage.

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–Field Level Media contributed to this article

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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