Rangers Fall Behind Early, Find Their Legs and Complete The Comeback
Despite Viktor Stalberg doing his best to make his former team regret letting him walk by scoring two goals, the Rangers were able to dig themselves out of an early hole, and crawl back from a 2-0 deficit after 20:00 to come back and win 3-2.
With the middling Carolina Hurricanes coming into town, the New York Rangers were looking to bounce back from a sub-par showing against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night. After starting off slow, the Rangers were able to find their game and defeat Carolina on the back of a strong third period effort, scoring two goals to turn a 2-1 hole into a 3-2 advantage and earn two points.
Carolina came out of the locker room with a pep in their step, and the Hurricanes' high energy manifested itself in breaking the ice less than six minutes into the game. With their 4th Line hopping over the boards and keeping the puck in New York's end, Carolina was able to cycle the puck and generate numerous dangerous scoring chances before former Ranger Viktor Stalberg fired a wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist with 14:38 remaining in the first period to get Carolina off and running.
That wouldn't be the last of Carolina's 4th line either, as they continued to pester New York for the rest of period before a Kevin Klein turnover resulted in Stalberg's second goal of the period with 7:05 to go. That score would hold until the intermission, as the Rangers were booed into the locker room down 2-0.
After the teams hit the ice for second period, the Rangers dug themselves a deeper hole after a high sticking penalty by Marc Staal less than a minute and a half into the action. After New York successfully killed it off, the team began to find their legs and create opportunities in the Hurricanes' defensive zone.
As they were approaching the halfway mark of the game, the Rangers were finally able to break the impenetrable wall that Cam Ward has been as of late, when a broken play led to a yawning cage for Nick Holden to bury his third goal of the season with 10:47 left to play in the frame. However, that would be New York's best shift of the period, as Carolina was able to bounce back and control the majority of action until the buzzer sounded to send the teams off the ice for the second intermission with Carolina in front by the score of 2-1.
If the Rangers wanted to give themselves a chance to come back and pull out a victory, they were going to need a quick start before Carolina could settle into a defensive shell, and they got exactly that. Less than thirty seconds after the drop of the puck, Rick Nash was able to block a Hurricanes' shot and spring himself on a breakaway before unleashing a backhanded shot that rang off the crossbar and behind Cam Ward at the 19:26 mark of the third.
From that point on, New York looked like an entirely different team from the one that had sleepwalked through the first two periods, while Carolina struggled to regain the pace and energy they put on display earlier in the contest. As the clock continued to wind down, the Rangers continued to carry the action as they kept the Hurricanes on their heels for the rest of the period until Ron Hainsey was penalized for hooking with 6:47 left in the frame. Hainsey disagreed with the call, and decided to share his opinion with the referee in not-so friendly manner, and earning himself another two minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Going against the NHL's best penalty killing unit, the Rangers faced a tall order if they wanted to end the game before guaranteeing their division rival at least point, and they proved they were up to the challenge. With 26 seconds remaining on the first half of the powerplay, Jimmy Vesey found the loose puck out of a net mouth scramble, and rifled it past Cam Ward to give New York their first lead of the night. At that point, the Rangers were able to sit back, play solid defense, and drain out the clock to secure the victory.
With another two points in the books, New York will look to build on their effort tonight as they get ready for a short road trip to the north, as they begin preparations for a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, followed by a rematch with Carolina on Saturday.