With their winning streak on the line tonight, the New York Rangers stepped up to the plate and defeated the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 1-0 at Madison Square Garden. In addition to the two points, Cam Talbot came away with his third win of the season, and also earned his third shutout in his last four appearances. Talbot had a relatively easy night largely due in part to the Rangers exceptional play in their defensive zone, but was forced to make a few key saves late in the game with the Rangers up 1-0.
The Rangers came out flying in the opening period, and if not for Anton Khudobin, this game could have easily been out of hand by the start of the second period. Throughout the first period, the Rangers held an 11-4 shot advantage over the Hurricanes, and controlled a majority of the puck possession in the offensive zone. After being stoned by Khudobin on their first couple of chances, the Rangers were finally able to break through at the 4:10 mark of the first period.
Ryan McDonagh eventually cashed in on the left side of the crease after receiving a perfect pass from Derek Stepan, who was able to dig the puck out behind the net. Just prior to the goal, the Rangers actually a 3-on-2 rush coming up the ice, but a misplay by Mats Zuccarello allowed Andrej Sekera to break up the play at the blue line. As the puck made its way to the corner, Stepan was able to get a step on Victor Rask, and knocked the puck loose to open up space behind the net.
With the attention now shifted to Stepan behind the net, that opened up a wide open lane down the left side of the ice for McDonagh, and he came away with his second goal of the season. With the way the Rangers were playing in the opening frame, it seemed fairly evident that they would be able to come away with at least another goal before the period ended. Unfortunately for them though, Anton Khudobin was on point since the opening puck drop, and was probably one of the few bright spots the Hurricanes had throughout the game tonight.
As the game continued to carry on, you could sense that the Rangers fatigue was starting to set in after a quick turnaround after last night's game in Carolina. The chances in the offensive zone started to slow down a bit, but luckily, the Rangers play in the defensive end remained fairly consistent throughout the game. With a little under four minutes remaining in regulation, the Rangers had an opportunity to close out the game for good, as Andrej Sekera took down Zuccarello deep in the offensive zone.
The Rangers had a few good looks on the ensuing power play, which included a few bombs from Martin St. Louis along the half wall, but were unable to capitalize. Khudobin was able to fight off the late surge by the Rangers, and with very little time left on the clock, the Hurricanes weren't able to find the late game equalizer. The Rangers eventually went on to win the game 1-0, and came away with their sixth straight win in the month of December.
The Rangers will have a scheduled off day tomorrow following the back-to-back, and close out their pre-Christmas schedule with a matchup against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.