At the end of a 8-game, 13-day stretch, the Canes strolled into Madison Square Garden, a place where they haven’t won since October of Jeff Skinner’s rookie season, and got dealt with by a bottom-dwelling Rangers team that got called out by their head coach David Quinn after their most recent game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
From the opening puck drop, the Hurricanes were a step or seven behind the Rangers and, all of 75 seconds into the first period, New York scored the opening goal in the form of a long-range floater off the stick of Anthony DeAngelo.
The Hurricanes managed to just barely survive a flurry of chances from the blue shirts, and they were able to take advantage of a pretty unfortunate mistake to get on the board.
Brett Howden lost his balance, turned the puck over to Saku Maenalanen, and the rookie Finn beat Henrik Lundqvist to even the score at one goal apiece.
It was... all down hill from there for the Canes.
The final 50 minutes of the game were dominated by the Rangers, who came out with an intensity that the Hurricanes never came close to matching. Every puck battle was won by a player in a blue jersey and every 50/50 play went the home team’s way.
Mika Zibanejad found the back of the net twice before the first period came to a merciful end, the second goal coming off of a slick pass from Mats Zuccarello. The Swede gave New York a 3-1 lead through 20 minutes, and they built on it in the second period.
In the early stages of the middle frame, a defensive breakdown from Carolina’s penalty kill led to Pavel Buchnevich being left wide open in the slot, and he made no mistake as he fired home Zibanejad’s centering pass to make it 4-1.
Buchnevich struck again on the man advantage less than five minutes into the third period to put an end to any comeback hopes that the Hurricanes may have had.
Rod Brind’Amour seemingly glued every forward not named “Saku Maenalanen”, “Victor Rask”, or “Warren Foegele” to the bench. The Rask-centered line was, far and away, the team’s best on Tuesday. They were the only trio that seemed willing to put forth real effort.
Those efforts were rewarded again in the third period, when Rask’s perimeter shot got deflected by Maenalanen in front and got behind Henrik Lundqvist. the goal marked by Maenalanen’s first multi-goal in the NHL and his third goal in two games.
Any positive vibes that the Canes got from that goal were squashed just a minute later. DeAngelo potted his second goal of the evening to bump the score to 6-2, which is how the game would eventually end.
There’s no two ways about it, the Hurricanes were bad on Tuesday night. They looked exhausted both physically and mentally. They were playing their eighth game in 13 days and, boy, they looked the part.
You never want to just say “this game doesn’t matter”, but there’s not much to do about this loss. The Canes were flat and disengaged from start to finish, and they got whooped because of it. The Rangers had a point to prove after getting publicly scorned, and they accomplished their mission.
The Hurricanes get to go home, have an off day, get back to practice on Thursday, and then look to bounce back against the Ottawa Senators. The response after Tuesday’s blowout loss will need to be loud and clear at PNC Arena on Friday night.