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Game Analysis: Hurricanes At Rangers

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Carolina attempted to rally from a three-goal deficit, but fell just shy Monday, losing to the New York Rangers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden.

Victor Rask, who scored for the second straigh game Monday, has arguably been Carolina’s top forward this season.
Victor Rask, who scored for the second straigh game Monday, has arguably been Carolina’s top forward this season.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Special teams struggles and spotty goaltending cost the Hurricanes again, with Carolina falling 4-3 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Three Observations

1. The penalty kill continues to fail the Hurricanes. The Rangers quickly converted both of their first-period chances to jump out a two-goal lead, and Carolina's PK unit now stands tied for the second-worst unit in the NHL at 74.5 percent. It's beginning to sound like a broken record, but when you couple the penalty kill woes with the league’s worst power play (12.5 percent), it's not hard to understand the Canes’ predicament.

2. Elias Lindholm continues to chug along, earning a point for the fifth-straight game with his assist on Victor Rask’s goal. His streak matches his previous career best, when he had eight points (five goals, two assists) in five games last season from Nov. 1 through Nov. 8. Curiously, Lindholm has only two points (one goal, one assist) in the Canes’ eight wins this season, compared to 25 points of his 39 points coming in 30 Carolina wins in 2014-15.

3. Speaking of the top line, Rask — with two goals in the past two games — has quietly moved into second on the team in scoring and is on pace for a 25-goal and 50-point season. Rask is in no way flashy, but if there's anyone on the team that seems to find a way to get the puck in the net, it's him. Rask’s entry-level contract is up after this year, and it will be interesting to see how GM Ron Francis approaches negotiations for his next contract. Will he opt for a bridge deal, or try to tie up Rask, just 22, long term with the hopes he'll continue and be a bargain down the road?

Number To Know

0 — Hurricanes players with a PDO of more than 100, the only team in the NHL with that distinction, according to war-on-ice.com. PDO, commonly referred to as "puck luck," is the combination of 5-on-5 shooting percentage and save percentage, with the idea being that in the end everything works its way back to right around 100. Brad Malone is the closest to 100 at 99.87. While a PDO of 100 is a benchmark that has proven pretty reliable, it can be skewed by teams that get poor goaltending and/or lack the high-end talent to finish scoring chances.

Plus

Jaccob Slavin — The rookie defenseman earned his first NHL point, a secondary assist on Rask’s second period goal, and continues to impress six games into his NHL career. Paired with fellow rookie Noah Hanifin, Slavin has progressively earned more ice time as he proves he's able to handle the rigors of the NHL.

Minus

Cam Ward — Ward was directly responsible for two goals, and it proved the difference between a win and a loss. Carolina dug a hole by getting into early penalty trouble, leading to two Rangers man-advantage markers, but the final two goals Ward allowed — a bad angle shot from Chris Kreider, and his own puck handling error that led to a 2-on-1 goal — rest solely on his shoulders.