Just a few minutes into the game the Rangers threw a shot on net that Curtis McElhinney stopped initially, then lost track of and left in the middle of the blue. As sticks clashed at the goal line, Jaccob Slavin’ came up with another exceptional goaltending play to keep the puck out of an all but empty net.
A few minutes later Justin Williams took a heavy cross check in the back from Brendan Smith that he was slow to get up from. A few seconds later he took another stick in the numbers from Smith before he could get to his feet.
Smith served two minutes and Slavin almost put the Hurricanes up a goal when a point slapper went off of Lundqvist’s far side post. But the Rangers escaped the odd man situation with the score still tied.
The rest of the frame was pretty quiet until the waning seconds when Teuvo Teravainen got a hold of the puck in the offensive zone and centered it to Lucas Wallmark who put a quick one-timer just wide of the cage as the period ending horn sounded. The game went into the first intermission tied at zero.
Just under halfway into the second frame Dougie Hamilton set up a beautiful goal with a give and go from Andrei Svechnikov and a beautiful centering pass to Jordan Martinook, who batted in his own rebound to break the ice in a scoreless game.
But a few minutes later the Rangers generated an odd man rush as Filip Chytil carried the puck into the zone and threw one on the net that McElhinney batted up into the air. Former Hurricanes prospect Connor Brickley crashed the net as the puck deflected off of his upper body and into the back of the net. It was initially ruled no goal but the call was ultimately reversed after a lengthy review.
Seventeen minutes into the third period, Justin Faulk went into the boards battling with Brady Skjei and got his stick up under Skjei’s left arm, taking him down into the boards. It wasn’t much, but Faulk got the gate for hooking. But the Canes killed it off nicely and even generated a scoring chance of their own thanks to noted elite penalty killer Sebastian Aho. The game went into the final break tied 1-1.
The final period started with a bang as Mats Zuccarello streaked across the goal mouth and almost put one in against the grain on McElhinney. He was somehow able to keep it out of the net and Chris Kreider would end up getting two minutes for pushing Brett Pesce into a vulnerable McElhinney.
The Canes had a productive power play that saw Faulk hit the post with a point shot. The puck wouldn’t go, and as the Hurricanes power play expired Wallmark was immediately whistled for holding.
Ninety seconds later Brock McGinn was whistled for what fit all the criteria for a trip, but didn’t quite look like one. The call would result in a Rangers goal off of Vladislav Namestikov’s stick after McElhinney made two great saves but couldn’t get in front of the third chance opportunity.
The Hurricanes kept steady pressure on Lundqvist and the Rangers through the last half of the third period and pulled McElhinney with just over two minutes to go in the period. A beautiful passing play set up again by Hamilton resulted in Williams with a golden opportunity on the one timer, but Lunqvist came up with a highlight reel save to deny the Hurricanes’ equalizer. The Canes lost a crucial game 2-1.
[Lundqvist] was good, our guy was good both goalies went at it and he made a few more saves, especially at the end. It’s a tough loss because we played well enough, played a good 60 minutes but just didn’t score.
Well they’re always tough, but the kill did a nice job. Unfortunately on the kill at the end it bounced over our stick on a clear and they just pounced on it. So it’s just unfortunate bounces there and hockey’s random like that sometimes.
On regaining momentum after a loss:
Well we always worry about just one day at a time and one game, that’s how we’ve done it here and we’re not going to change. That was our best game we’ve played in probably seven or eight, it just didn’t work out. If you come with that mindset and you play that hard I think we’ll be where we want at the end of the year.
“Maybe a bad bounce here or there, but i think in the last three games that’s probably the best we’ve played and we come out on the other end of it. At this time of year you just kind of have to push that one aside and we’re going to keep moving forward and every game is so huge for us right now. Obviously we wish we could have got one at the end there to tie it up, trying to get two or one [point] even, but it just wasn’t there for us tonight.”
“[Lunqvist] played well, you have to give him credit. I don’t know if we could have done a better job getting in front of his eyes or trying to get sticks on a couple of them or second opportunities, I don’t know. I’ll have to look at some clips tomorrow but I thought he played well but I don’t know if we did enough to try and get another one by him.”
- Hockey’s a funny game. The Canes played what looked like their best system game tonight against the Rangers and ended up on the wrong end of it. I counted two pipes in that game — one off of a point shot from Slavin that Ferland got a stick on, and one later on another point blast from Faulk. If either of those go we’re looking at an entirely different outcome.
- Curtis McElhinney looked fantastic tonight in net. The 35-year-old kept the Canes in the game with a couple of crucial saves in the second and third period. He was exactly what the team needed to stay in the game when the defense broke down.
- Justin Faulk had a couple of really tough defensive sequences tonight. The most notable started with him caught too low in the offensive zone which generated an odd-man rush going the other way. When he regained possession in the defensive zone he sent a puck sailing over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Despite a few bad decisions on the blue line, he had some great looks on the power play that narrowly missed twine.
- The Canes missed out on a needed two points tonight. But they’ve snuck out of multiple games with a pair two points that they didn’t really deserve over the past couple weeks. They still control their own destiny. The team will practice tomorrow at Raleigh Center Ice and be back in action on Thursday in the Sunshine State where they’ll visit the Panthers.