March 31, 2014

The Minnesota Wild's eight-game point streak is all the more impressive considering how little offense they've generated during that stretch.

Although that formula has worked fine throughout the streak, the Wild would happily take more results similar to their most recent one.

After blowing out its latest opponent with a season-high goal total, Minnesota looks to shut down the visiting New York Rangers on Thursday night.

Thomas Vanek scored one of the Wild's three power-play goals and added three assists, leading his team to a 6-2 romp over Vancouver on Tuesday. Minnesota (16-7-6) had managed to go 4-0-3 in its previous seven games despite totaling 13 goals.

''It kind of got boring. That's not our style of play,'' defenseman Ryan Suter said, sarcastically, after the win over the Canucks. ''But it's good to see guys get some points and be able to take it a little easy in the third. We've been playing well, guys are buying in defensively, and it was bound to happen.''

Mikko Koivu also scored and had three assists for the Wild, while Zach Parise added a goal and two assists and backup Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves in another sharp performance.

''We've been getting chances. It's just not been going in in a lot of those,'' said Koivu, who won 18 of 23 faceoffs. ''Tonight I think everything seemed to find the net, and for sure that's a good sign.''

The Wild's shooting percentage of one goal every 9.7 shots is in the top 10 in the NHL. Perhaps holding them back is their per-game shot average of 28.1 that's near the bottom of the league.

However many goals they score, though, Minnesota can draw confidence from its goaltending. Kuemper went 3-0-2 with a 1.32 goals-against average while Devan Dubnyk was out with a strained groin.

Dubnyk is ready to return and expected to start Thursday. He hasn't allowed a goal in 127 minutes, 2 seconds over his last three starts.

His return probably isn't welcome news for the Rangers (19-9-4), who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 home victory over Edmonton on Tuesday but are 3-6-2 in their last 11. New York has also dropped five in a row and six of seven on the road.

The Rangers, though, have won four of their last five meetings with the Wild and three of four at Xcel Energy Center, and they beat Dubnyk and the Wild 3-2 at Madison Square Garden on April 2 in the latest meeting.

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in that game for his third straight win in the series.

Lundqvist stopped 18 shots Tuesday and has given up two or fewer goals in four of his last five starts. He had allowed five before getting pulled in a 7-5 defeat at Edmonton in his previous start Friday.

''This was just so needed, this win, I think for so many reasons,'' he said after the Rangers ended the Oilers' six-game winning streak.

Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist and defenseman Dylan McIlrath scored his first NHL goal.

New York had allowed 14 goals and 96 shots during its 0-2-1 swing through Western Canada that ended Saturday.

''We're used to being a top defensive team in the league,'' defenseman Marc Staal said. ''We were making some plays that are uncharacteristic.''

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi did not make the trip and will miss at least two more games with a swollen knee.

Wild center Jarret Stoll, claimed off waivers from New York on Tuesday, could be in the lineup Thursday.

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