The New York Rangers won their third straight game tonight with a convincing 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Derek Stepan came away with a hat trick, while Carl Hagelin had two goals of his own. The entire line of Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider was dominant once again, and the trio combined for nine points tonight. You can't forget about Henrik Lundqvist either, as he played one heck of a game between the pipes. There were a few times where Carolina had some chances to get back into the game, but Lundqvist was right there to answer the call.
The Rangers arrived to the game about ten minutes late, as the Hurricanes immediately jumped on the Rangers slow start, and started to take early control. Luckily for the Rangers, they were able to get a boost as Carl Hagelin scored on a fluky shot in the high slot. Justin Peters completely whiffed on the puck as it slide right between the tip of his skate, and the edge of the post.
That goal brought the crowd right back into the game, and also gave the Rangers some life that they were missing early on. Just as they did on Thursday night, the Rangers turned on the afterburners in the second period, and completely tore into the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carl Hagelin would eventually pick up his second goal of the game off of a nice read by Taylor Pyatt. Hagelin's penalty had just expired when Pyatt tossed the puck down the ice, and the Hurricanes never picked up on Hagelin coming out of the box. He raced to the loose puck, and shoveled it through the five hole to make it 2-0 Rangers.
With about five minutes remaining in the second, Derek Stepan picked up his first goal of the season as he knocked in a loose puck in front on the power play. You could tell just by the way Stepan reacted that he was well overdue for his first goal. He would eventually pile on two more goals in the third period to complete the hat trick, one of which being a really beautiful play.
Chris Kreider would make a great play in the corner to jar the puck loose, and the puck made it's way behind the net to Zuccarello. Zuccarello fired a quick behind the back pass out in front, and Stepan was right there to fire home a laser of a wrist shot. That line has been very dominant over these last few games, and it was just a great combination put together by Alain Vigneault.
It's also worth pointing out how well Zuccarello and Kreider have rebounded under AV. Over his last three games, Kreider has put up five points, which included three helpers tonight on Stepan's goals. Zuccarello was also a healthy scratch a few games ago, and has since been a completely different player. He looks more confident with the puck, and has been making some beautiful passes.
The Rangers will have two big measuring stick games coming up as they take on the Anaheim Ducks this upcoming Monday, and the Pittsburgh Penguins the following Wednesday. Things are starting to look up for the New York Rangers, and let's hope it continues.