The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes battled it out at Madison Square Garden for a shot at first place, and the Hurricanes prevailed 4-2 in regulation. The Rangers opened the scoring early in the second period, but Carolina followed up with three straight goals, two of which game in the third period. New York made things interesting late in the game courtesy of Chris Kreider, but that would be as close as the Rangers would come.
K’Andre Miller (7) - Mika Zibanejad (48) & Frank Vatrano (13) - 1:03
After a strong opening 20 minutes, the Rangers were able to carry that momentum over into the second period and turned it into a goal. A great passing sequence by the Rangers entering the zone confused the Hurricanes, and Frank Vatrano found Mika Zibanejad across the ice. Zibanejad made several head fakes as he approached the goal line, and finished off the play with an excellent centering feed to the far post. K’Andre Miller was driving the net with his stick on the ice, and tapped home his seventh of the season to give the Rangers the lead.
Andrei Svechnikov (29) - Seth Jarvis (19) & Sebastian Aho (40) - 13:38
Several minutes later, the Hurricanes were able to turn a quick transition play into the game tying goal at the 13:38 mark of the period. Andrei Svechnikov created the entire play with speed through the neutral zone, and cut inside on Ryan Lindgren for a chance on goal. Lindgren wound up blocking the initial shot to the corner, but Svechnikov followed up his own rebound for another chance on goal. The puck wound up deflecting off of Igor Shesterkin’s leg and slipped into the net to knot up the game at 1-1.
Seth Jarvis (14) - Sebastian Aho (41) & Brady Skjei (23) - 1:02
As quickly as the Rangers answered in the second period, the Hurricanes added a quick goal of their own early in the third period. Carolina was able to catch the Rangers relaxed in their defensive coverage at the blueline, and Sebastian Aho made them pay with a great centering feed. Seth Jarvis was able to get in behind three Rangers’ players and broke in all along after collecting the great pass from Aho. Jarvis beat Igor Shesterkin with a slick move to his backhand and put the puck under the crossbar to make it a 2-1 lead for the Hurricanes.
Jordan Staal (14) - Brady Skjei (24) & Jesper Fast (18) - 6:42
Carolina added a massive insurance marker just five minutes after taking the lead, and put the Rangers back against the wall with 14 minutes left in the game. A six-man board battle along the left side boards created chaos, and Jesper Fast was able to dig the puck up top to Brady Skjei. Skjei wound up for a heavy slap shot, but Kevin Rooney was able to get a slight piece of the puck. Skjei’s stick wound up snapping and the puck landed in open space just above the hash marks. Jordan Staal was able to jump on the loose puck and beat Igor Shesterkin with a quick turnaround shot from high in the slot.
Chris Kreider (50) - Andrew Copp (30) & Ryan Strome (31) - 18:22
With under two minutes remaining in the game, the Rangers needed some type of response and none other than Chris Kreider stepped to the plate. A seeing-eye shot from the point by Adam Fox somehow found its way through traffic and gave Frederik Andersen some trouble. The rebound kicked right out to the top of the crease where Chris Kreider was waiting and he slammed home his 50th goal of the season. With the goal, Kreider became the fourth player in franchise history to read the 50 goal plateau, and still has a handful of games left to go for the record.
Sebastian Aho (34) - Andrei Svechnikov (37) & Teuvo Teravainen (40) - 19:54
The Rangers played a good 40 minutes, and then the whole thing collapsed in a matter of six minutes in the third period. This was about as close as the Rangers are going to get to a playoff type of atmosphere with plenty of hitting, nastiness and close battles along the boards. The Hurricanes are a great team, and they showed that again tonight against the Rangers. New York will have a chance to rebound rather quickly as they head into Pennsylvania for a meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow evening.