Alexis Lafreniere has goal and 2 assists as Rangers beat Wild 4-1

Alexis Lafreniere has goal and 2 assists as Rangers beat Wild 4-1

By Allan Kreda

Alexis Lafreniere scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and added two assists, Louis Domingue made 25 saves in his first NHL game in nearly 18 months, and the New York Rangers beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 on Thursday night.

Vincent Trocheck also had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, and Blake Wheeler also scored as the Rangers won for the eighth time in nine games. Their only loss in that stretch was a shootout defeat at Minnesota last Saturday.

Domingue, who last appeared for Pittsburgh against the Rangers in the first round of the 2022 playoffs, started with both Igor Shesterkin and backup Jonathan Quick nursing injuries and not in uniform. Rookie Dylan Garand, also summoned from AHL Hartford, was the backup.

“To me, he was in place on everything. I thought he played a heck of a game,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said of the goalie. ”He really stepped up in that second period when I think they fired 30 attempts at our net. Ultimately, he gave us a chance at 1-1 pushing into the third period.”

Brandon Duhaime scored for the Wild, and Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 24 saves. Minnesota snapped a two-game win streak and lost for the fifth time in seven games (2-4-1).

“It was more their fast start than our slow start,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “We want consistency. We have to find that to win.”

Lafreniere finished off a pretty passing play with Panarin to score his fifth goal of the season at 1:41 of the third to put the Rangers ahead. Panarin’s assist extended his season-starting points streak to 13 games, one shy of the Rangers’ franchise record set by Rod Gilbert in 1972-73.

“We bounced back in the third,” said Lafreniere, who had his first career three-point game. ”A really big win.”

Wheeler had a power-play goal with 5:21 left — his first goal since joining the Rangers in the offseason — to make it 3-1 before Panarin completed the scoring with an empty-net goal, his eighth of the season. Panarin has a team-best 22 points.

“We pushed the pace,” said the 37-year-old Wheeler, who joined the Rangers as a free agent last summer after 12 seasons with Winnipeg. ”It was a good feeling to score a goal and extend the lead.”

The Rangers are 15 for 42 on the power play this season.

Trocheck opened the scoring, rifling a high shot past Fleury at 3:56 of the first period. It was Trocheck’s fourth goal of the season and third in two games. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson had an assist on the play for his 200th career point.

Duhaime tied it with 7:27 left in the second with his third goal of the season, deflecting a shot past Domingue.

In the third, Domingue made a glove save on former Ranger Vinni Lettieri earlier during a New York power-play and Domingue heard fans at Madison Square Garden chanting “Louie, Louie” late in the game when he denied another former Ranger Mats Zuccarello.

“It was an awesome experience,” Domingue said. ”I wish my kids would have been here to see that but I know they were watching at home. Hopefully I get to share one with them.”

Dominque’s victory also made it the first season since 1989-90 that the Rangers had three goaltenders record wins in the team’s first 13 games.

UP NEXT

Wild: At Buffalo on Friday and then host Dallas on Sunday before heading to Sweden for the NHL Global Series where they play Ottawa and Toronto.

Rangers: Host Columbus on Sunday.

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