It certainly wasn't their prettiest performance of the season, but the Rangers found a way, and defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in the shootout. Aside from the second period, the Rangers played very poorly in the first and third period, and probably would have come up empty handed if not for Cam Talbot. Speaking of Talbot, he played lights out once again, and rebounded well after letting a soft one slip by early in the third period.
After having the last two days off, the Rangers started out awful in the third period, and were a slight step behind the Hurricanes in the early going. Even though it was one that Talbot needed to stop, the lack of a strong start came back to bit the Rangers, and the Hurricanes struck first just 2:01 into regulation. Elias Lindholm was credited with the first goal after he ripped an off-angle shot, and the puck just barely slipped over the goal line after hitting Talbot.
It was a terrible goal to give up that early on in the game, and with the offense tailing off as of late, this was not the type of start the Rangers envisioned. Following the early pressure by the Hurricanes, the Rangers finally started to come around, and had several threatening chances in front of Anton Khudobin. Jesper Fast had two separate opportunities, but he wound up flubbing the first one, and got absolutely robbed on the doorstep by a diving save from Khudobin.
The Rangers closed out the period on a high note, and carried that momentum over to the second period, where they eventually fought their way back. Just 3:39 into the middle frame, J.T. Miller was able to redirect the puck from the left side of the net, and slipped the puck under Khudobin to knot the game at 1-1. It was a nice set play after Derick Brassard won the faceoff, and Mats Zuccarello hit Miller cutting to the net with a crisp pass.
A little over ten minutes later, the Rangers broke through with their second goal, and Jesper Fast finally got the goal he deserved. Carl Hagelin started the entire play with a quick chip of the puck at the red line, which sent Kevin Hayes off to the races. Hayes was able to get the inside track on Ryan Murphy, and slipped the puck over to Fast with a pass through the defenseman's legs.
The pass wound up being a little behind Fast, but he was able to corral the puck, and whipped a hard shot on the spin around wrister. That quick little move wound up throwing off Khudobin, and Fast smoked it by his glove to give the Rangers their first lead of the evening. After responding very well during the second period, the Rangers fell back on the lead in the third period, and it wound up costing them.
With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Carl Hagelin was whistled down for tripping Justin Faulk, which sent the Hurricanes to their second power play of the night. Just as the power play was set to expire, Ryan Murphy converted on a point shot through traffic, and tied the game back up at 2-2 late in the third period. Talbot really didn't have much a chance on the goal as there was tons of bodies in the shooting lane, and he never even caught a glimpse of the shot.
The game eventually headed to overtime, where both teams traded chances at either end of the ice, but unfortunately, still remained tied after extra time. Mats Zuccarello wound up being the only player to convert in the shootout, and Talbot turned down Jeff Skinner in the final round to reel in two huge points.
As mentioned before, this certainly was a pretty win by any means, but two points is what matters, and the Rangers found a way to get the job done. This win now gives the Rangers 97 points on the season, and keeps them five points clear of the New York Islanders for the Metropolitan Division lead. The Rangers will be back in action tomorrow night, as they welcome the Anaheim Ducks in to Madison Square Garden.