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About Last Night: Breathing room at the top

The Hurricanes picked up a 4-2 win in Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, building a four-point lead atop the Metro.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes went to Madison Square Garden Tuesday night and did what they haven’t done a ton of there over the years: win.

The Canes beat the Rangers 4-2 in a pivotal Metro Division game, giving Carolina a four-point edge over the Rangers atop the division with just eight games left to play.

Seth Jarvis, Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal were the goal scorers for the Hurricanes, as a great third period saw the Canes take control of things and win the game.

About last night:

Seth Jarvis is playing well and having fun

In his first ever game in Madison Square Garden, during his first ever trip to New York, Seth Jarvis had a goal and an assist in the Canes’ important 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

Jarvis has been playing well for the Hurricanes all season, and he had a really exceptional game Tuesday night in a battle of the Metro’s top two teams. Jarvis scored early in the third period on a nasty move to beat overwhelming Vezina frontrunner Igor Shesterkin and give the Canes the lead.

Jarvis also assisted on Carolina’s first goal of the night, getting the puck towards the net to eventually lead to a goal after the scramble from Andrei Svechnikov.

The stakes were huge Tuesday night. The game was in arguably the country’s most heralded indoor sports arena. But the moment wasn’t too big at all for Jarvis, who is clearly having so much fun as he goes on this NHL journey for the first time.

“I’ve never been to New York before, so this was sick,” Jarvis said. “It’s an iconic stadium. I’ve watched tons of basketball and hockey here. To be in here — especially during morning skate, I was looking up at the rafters the whole time checking everything out — it was super cool. To score was awesome.”

And he’s not intimidated, either. His play on the ice is proving that for sure, but again, it’s clear that he’s just really enjoying all of this.

“It’s so cool,” Jarvis said. “I love it. It’s awesome. I think like you said it can be a little intimidating, but for me I think just the amount of games I’ve watched on TV sitting on my couch and now to be on the ice playing in games in this rink, it’s more that you can’t believe it’s happening. It’s ‘I can’t believe I’m out here, and I’m excited to get going.’”

Jarvis’ play has been so consistent, and he really excelled Tuesday night playing alongside Aho and Svechnikov. And because of that, it’s kind of easy to forget that Jarvis just turned 20 a couple of months ago.

He’s playing beyond his years already, and that’s a great thing for the Hurricanes heading into postseason play. But he also has an unbridled enthusiasm about it all that is so infectious, and it has made it really, really easy to cheer for him.

“He doesn’t look like a young kid,” said Rod Brind’Amour. “He plays above that. You want him to take it in. We tell him that all the time. You should be enjoying the moments you get in this league. You don’t want to dwell on it or get overwhelmed by it, but you certainly want to appreciate the building and the history and all of that, and then go out and do your job. That’s what he did.”

Big Apples in the Big Apple

That Jarvis-Aho-Svechnikov line was really good for the Hurricanes Tuesday night after it was on the ice for the Rangers’ first goal, eventually contributing two of the goals (with Aho adding an empty netter on top of that) while outshooting the Rangers and out-producing New York in scoring chances, high-danger chances and expected goals.

A big part of that is obviously Aho, who finished the night with two assists and the empty netter for the 100th multi-point game of his NHL career. He had the great pass to set up Jarvis’ goal, and he also help set up the Jarvis chance that led to the Svechnikov goal.

And with his two assists Tuesday night, Aho is now up to 41 assists and 75 points on the season. His career highs there are 53 and 83 back in 2018-19. He’s already got his second-most assists and goals in a single season, and he’s got a good chance to set new career marks across the board this year (he’s four goals shy of his 2019-20 mark right now).

Aho has been such a solid rock of consistency for the Hurricanes over the years, and he just continues to build his game with each coming day. The Canes had a huge game Tuesday night and Aho was a big reason for the win, and he’s been a main reason for the success all year.

Other Thoughts

  • Jordan Staal is suddenly the best goal scorer in the NHL. Staal tallied again Tuesday night, and he now has six goals in his last four games. Staal, who had just two goals this season as recently as Feb. 10, is now tied for sixth on the team with 14 goals. Bonkers.
  • Frederik Andersen is so good.
  • The Hurricanes’ penalty kill is so good.
  • Chris Kreider has 50 goals this season, which is absolutely insane considering his previous career best was 28.
  • The Hurricanes did that thing again where they didn’t play great at the start but absolutely turned it on late to win a game. It’s good that the third periods are strong, that’s very important come postseason, but also the whole 60 needs to be better on a more consistent basis. The Canes would be the first to tell you that, though.
  • A couple of the Hurricanes’ stable of former Rangers had productive nights back in MSG. While Antti Raanta didn’t play and Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Smith and Derek Stepan didn’t find the scoresheet, Brady Skjei had two assists and Jesper Fast had one.
  • It was a big night for the Hurricanes on the standings side of things, obviously, as Carolina has now built a four-point buffer between itself and New York atop the Metro with just eight games left to play for both teams. Yes, there’s arguments to be made that finishing second would maybe lead to an easier first-round series (though Pittsburgh isn’t exactly a pushover), but the Hurricanes are certainly trying to win the division. You’ve got to beat four teams to hoist the cup anyway, the order is kind of whatever.
  • We’ll end with some brilliant stickhandling (and maybe even more brilliant knowledge of the rules) from Andersen.