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NEW YORK (AP) — Casey Wellman, recalled from the minors hours earlier, broke a second-period tie with his second NHL goal and Jose Theodore made 40 saves for the Minnesota Wild, who beat New York 3-1 on Thursday night and finished off the Rangers’ winless three-game homestand.
Wellman was brought up on an emergency basis in case Cal Clutterbuck was unable to play following a hard hit he took from behind Wednesday in Minnesota’s loss to the New York Islanders. Clutterbuck was in the lineup, but Wellman took the place of Jed Ortmeyer, who was sent down to Houston of the AHL.
Kyle Brodziak also scored in the second to wipe out the Rangers’ 1-0 lead, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard added insurance in the third for the Wild, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Theodore continued his dominance of the Rangers, who held a 41-19 shots edge.
Sean Avery was the only one to beat him. That wasn’t nearly enough for the Rangers, who were outscored 8-4 during their fruitless homestand and are on the verge of falling below the postseason cutoff in the Eastern Conference. New York is 4-10-1 in its past 15, including 2-6-1 at home.
Brodziak tied it 4:36 into the second when he tipped in defenseman Jared Spurgeon’s shot. Wellman put the Wild in front for good with another deflection, this one off a drive by Brent Burns.
Bouchard put the win away at 8:15 of the third on the ensuing rush after the Rangers nearly tied it when a puck got behind Theodore. The Wild goalie came in with an 8-0-1 mark and 2.34 goals against average and .920 save percentage in nine career road starts against the Rangers.
Theodore played for the second straight night after he replaced the ineffective Niklas Backstrom early in the second period on Wednesday.
The Wild looked every bit as sluggish early on in the second half of their New York doubleheader as they did in the 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Wednesday.
Minnesota, no stranger to being outshot by an opponent, gave up the first eight shots to the Rangers before finishing with a three-shot flurry in the final 2:43 of the first period. The Wild’s three shots barely exceeded the two delay-of-game penalties they took in the opening frame.
The Wild killed each of those power plays, but they were already down 1-0 from Avery’s goal 3:13 in. It was Avery’s first goal in 23 games, dating to Jan. 8 at St. Louis, and only his third of the season.
The Rangers failed to capitalize on the two power plays the Wild handed them — coming close only when Ryan Callahan was stopped by a desperation, lunging stick save by Theodore as he fell in the crease and reached his outstretched arm to the left.
Notes: Theodore is 13-3-2 in his past 18 starts against the Rangers. … The Wild have been outshot in 57 of 65 games this season but have 31 wins in those contests. … New York D Michael Del Zotto broke a finger while playing with Connecticut of the AHL and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. … Rangers D Marc Staal (knee) and LW Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder) returned to the lineup.
WCCO’s Interview With Casey Wellman
WCCO’s Interview With Todd Richards
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