With the end of the regular season nearing, the Carolina Hurricanes’ playoff hopes are growing slimmer and slimmer by the day, and their loss to the tanking New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night didn’t do them any favors.
The Canes, still winless at MSG since 2010, dropped yet another game at the world’s most famous arena and allowed the Panthers and Blue Jackets to continue pulling away in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After a back-and-forth opening half of the first period, it was the Rangers who got on the board first. An offensive zone faceoff resulted in a point shot that redirected off the end boards and right to Mats Zuccarello, who wristed a sharp-angle shot home for his 13th of the season.
Just over five minutes later, the Hurricanes got one back, thanks again to the nation of Finland. Sebastian Aho set up Teuvo Teravainen for a chance in the slot and he managed to get it by rookie goalie Alexandar Georgiev and tie the game at one before the first intermission.
Less than two minutes into the middle frame, a defensive zone faceoff win by Derek Ryan resulted in a go-ahead goal for Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey. Vesey jumped on a loose puck amid a lackluster group of Canes skaters and beat Scott Darling to make it 2-1.
At the 7:48 mark of the period, Lee Stempniak netted his first goal since January 14 as he hammered home the rebound from a Jeff Skinner shot from the top of the slot and tied the game at two.
Then, four minutes later, a centerpiece of New York’s return for Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller gave them their third lead of the night. Vladislav Namestnikov got credited with a deflection goal on the man advantage.
Near the halfway point of the third period, the Hurricanes were presented with an important opportunity as Zuccarello was whistled for hooking, and Victor Rask registered the tying goal. Rask ripped a laser beam slap shot from the top of the zone off the post and into the Ranger net to tie the game yet again.
Just under five minutes later, the Rangers continued the game’s alternating scoring trend. Vesey wired a sharp-angle shot over the shoulder of Darling for his second of the game and gave the home team another lead.
The Canes kept their foot on the gas, but Georgiev was terrific, keeping his team on the right side of the score.
Bill Peters pulled Darling for the extra attacker with three minutes to go and, almost instantly, Zuccarello netted his second of the game from the neutral zone. Vesey then scored New York’s second empty net goal to make it 6-3, and the hats came raining down in honor of his three-goal performance.
That’s how things ended. The Rangers, who were outshot 44-23 on Monday, have now won three of their four meetings with the Hurricanes this season. The two teams will meet again in Raleigh before the end of the season.
The Canes will have to move on from this demoralizing loss and shift their focus to tomorrow night’s opponent. They’ll host the scorching-hot Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
Also, Valentin Zykov got sent back to Charlotte after participating in warm-ups. So, there’s that.
Rank the Performances
Here’s your chance to weigh in on how you think the team performed tonight. Upvote the players you think played well and downvote the ones who didn’t.