Game Analysis: Rangers At Hurricanes

Alexander Semin and the Hurricanes pushed back against the Rangers Tuesday, winning the Metropolitan Division game 3-1 at PNC Arena. - Grant Halverson

With their playoff hopes on life support, the Carolina Hurricanes managed to knock off one of the teams they are chasing, topping the New York Rangers, 3-1, at PNC Arena.

Carolina’s top six forwards came through for them Tuesday night, combining for three goals to give Cam Ward his first win since Dec. 31, 2013. Jiri Tlusty, Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm all scored for the Hurricanes.

Three Observations

1. For the first time in a long time, Carolina seemed to have two forward lines capable of dominating play shift after shift. Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner and Lindholm combined for the game’s final goal and carried play when they were on the ice. Meanwhile, the second line of Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin and Tlusty combined for five points while logging the most even strength time of any Carolina forwards.

2. Speaking of ice time, rookie blue liner Ryan Murphy has averaged 25:05 his past two games playing alongside Andrej Sekera. While he's yet to register a point in the three games since his recall — he had an 11-game point streak with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers prior to his promotion — he has looked reliable and more confident than his previous stints in Raleigh. With Brett Bellemore and Ron Hainsey — successful together the early part of this season — back together, should coach Kirk Muller and company explore keeping Sekera and Murphy together and reunite Justin Faulk with old partner Jay Harrison in the hopes of having three more stable pairings? In the short term, it might be just what the doctor ordered for Faulk upon his return, allowing him to play fewer minutes as he rounds back into form.

3. The goal Ward allowed had an "uh-oh" feel to it, but for the night he wound up earning his salary. It makes sense to go back to Ward Thursday against Buffalo, thus allowing Anton Khudobin the chance against his former team, the Bruins, on Saturday. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, but for a night Ward was back on his game and at least raising the possibility that this planned 1-2 punch in net could work going forward. But one game does not a tandem make.

Number To Know

68 — Days without a win for Ward, who last won a game Dec. 31, 2013, and had lost three straight since returning from injury before Tuesday's victory. That marks the longest such in-season stretch of his career: In 2009-10, Ward won on Oct. 9, then didn't notch a W until Dec. 16, a span of 66 days without a victory.

Plus

Jiri Tlusty — Tlusty shook off a big, open-ice hit from Ryan McDonagh in the first period to register his fifth multi-point game of the season. While his 21 points are a far cry from the 23 goals he scored in 48 games last year, Tlusty now has five goals and six assists in his past 18 games — a 50-point pace iof maintained over an 82-game season.

Minus

Mike Komisarek — With Justin Faulk back practicing and Murphy logging big minutes, Komisarek seems like the logical odd-man out going forward. Komisarek was at fault on the Rangers’ lone goal, choosing to meet Benoit Pouliot at the blue line instead of sliding back in the zone. The result was Kevin Klein’s first goal with New York and a tie game.

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