After nine seasons as teammates, Mats Zuccarello and Henrik Lundqvist had developed a friendship during their time with the New York Rangers.
Therefore it was only fitting that a multi-point effort by Zuccarello helped the Minnesota Wild defeat the Rangers on a night where Lundqvist's No. 30 jersey retired.
The crowd at Madison Square Garden was fired up after a pregame ceremony to honor Lundqvist. New York rode the momentum for first-period goals from Barclay Goodrow and Chris Kreider to take a 2-0 lead but the Wild weathered the storm to rebound in the second period.
After Frederick Gaudreau was stoned on a penalty shot, Minnesota broke through with Kevin Fiala's 12th goal of the season to cut the Rangers' lead in half.
The goal extended Fiala's point streak to 10 games but also set the stage for Zuccarello to play spoiler. While Lundqvist entered the Rangers' broadcast booth, the Wild went on the power play. When the puck found its way to his friend, Lundqvist gave his former team some quick advice.
"Don't let him score."
Unfortunately, it was too late. Zuccarello buried a one-timer from the blue line and the Wild had tied the game at 2.
Zuccarello struck again in the third period, delivering a nifty pass to Fiala, who fed Gaudreau to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.
The Wild's advantage held up until the final minute when the Rangers made a push with the extra attacker. With time winding down, the Rangers appeared to score but Dylan Strome was called for goaltender interference and Minnesota came away with the victory.
The Wild (26-10-3) will look for a New York sweep when they face the Islanders on Sunday night.