On a day filled with distraction and discussion of things outside the 200 foot sheet of ice, the Carolina Hurricanes were ultimately done in by a slow start that saw them trail 3-0 in the first, and never fully overcome the deficit, falling 3-2 to the New York Rangers to end their winning streak.
The first period began with multiple Canes visits to the penalty box that paid off the second time as Mika Zibanejad returned to the Rangers lineup with a power play bang. Less than two minutes following that goal, the Rangers forced a turnover following a dump-in as chaos ensued in the Carolina end. Eventually, Brendan Smith was able to one-time a rocket past Petr Mrazek to quickly make the score 2-0.
While play evened out for much of the remainder of the first period, the scoreboard did not. Finally, as the period wound down inside the final minute, the Canes lost their assignments on a Rangers rush, which allowed New York to set up in the offensive zone with the Canes in scramble mode. Old friend Adam Fox redirected an Artemi Panarin shot in front, extending the Rangers lead to 3-0 at the end of one.
Carolina tried to turn the tide in the second period, but Lundqvist proved to be his usual tough cookie to crack. Even as the Canes worked to earn a power play near the halfway point of the period with some serious zone time, they were unable to capitalize and eventually lost the man advantage due to a Nino Niederreiter offensive zone penalty
After both penalties subsided, however, the Canes were given a golden opportunity as the Rangers received a too man men penalty. That penalty served as a bit of a turning point, as the Canes finally broke through during an active power play with Dougie Hamilton’s shot deflecting in from Ryan Dzingel.
And just as the Rangers did in the first period, the Canes answered their initial power play tally with another quick marker. Warren Foegele powered to the front of the net, and forced the puck through as he crashed into Lundqvist, thanks to a healthy shove from a Rangers defender. Just like that, the Canes were back in a one goal contest, one that looked like it would tied mere moments later as Martin Necas viewed a gaping net from the doorstep with the puck on his stick. What followed was one of the finer saves of Lundqvist’s illustrious career. His stick save on Necas protected the tiny margin, and ultimately the game headed to the third period with that 3-2 score, even as the Canes again headed to the power play.
As the third period set off, the Canes were unsuccessful on the remainder of their power play. The Rangers returned a but more settled following the shaky finish to the second. Though he was not necessarily sharp for most all of the night, Mrazek continued to battle in net and make a handful of scrambling saves that kept the Canes in striking distance, including killing a penalty near the halfway point of the final period.
As Carolina ramped up their attack yet again, Andrei Svechnikov provided yet another near miss in the attempt to even the ledger as he rang a wrister off the crossbar with just over five minutes remaining. The Canes continued their push for the equalizer and after Lucas Wallmark was tripped to the ice with 3:10 to go, the Canes were given their last, best chance. Lundqvist once again proved to be too much as he turned away Hamilton and then Svechnikov on the rebound to cling to the one goal advantage.
As the clock ticked away, Sebastian Aho was sent off for a trip with 36 seconds left, and with it, the Canes were unable to muster another opportunity and ultimately fell short in their comeback.
Lundqvist turned away 41 shots in yet another spectacular performance against the Canes. Warren Foegele put together one of his finest efforts as a Cane, leading the team with nine shots on goal, including his one tally.
Carolina will return home following Thanksgiving and host the Nashville Predators on Friday at PNC Arena.