Tracking the Storm: Analysis
-- After a month away from PNC Arena, the Carolina Hurricanes returned home and fell 4-2 to the New York Rangers in a critical divisional match-up. Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner tallied for the Hurricanes and Anton Khudobin made 40 saves, but special teams play was the difference as the Rangers scored both on the power play and shorthanded to secure the victory. “We’re very frustrated. That was a big game,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “To have the lead that late, you have to be able to hold that off and win the hockey game, and we didn’t do it.”
-- The Canes power play continues to be the difference in the worst way. The team has not scored a goal on the man advantage now in seven straight games, their longest stretch of the season, going 0-for-27 in that time. Since Jan. 22, the Canes are just 3-for-51. Tonight, it was 0-for-4, a statistic that includes almost a minute of five-on-three time. “You’ve got to execute,” Muller said. “If we start to get individual and wanting to make your own plays, it doesn’t work. You get outworked on it and you don’t execute, the end result isn’t there. We didn’t get the job done.”
-- Skinner, who tallied on a third-period penalty shot to give the Canes a brief 2-1 lead, on the power play: “You’ve got to stick with it. That’s the mental part, trying to focus on the positives, trying to grind it out and solve the problem we have,” he said. “We need to find a way, and we’re going to find a way. It’s a matter of time.”
-- Staal, who picked a corner on a two-on-one rush to open up the scoring in the first period, on the power play: “We’re just not scoring goals. Tonight, the first few we created some opportunities. After that, I think we were just trying to break out the whole time. We couldn’t get any zone time, and when you’re not getting zone time, you’re obviously not going to be scoring goals. We needed to do a better job of hounding the puck, supporting each other and setting things up.”
-- More Muller on the power play: “We’re all pros, and that’s why we’re pros. You’ve got to get the job done. No excuses. Confidence, mental stuff, all that, you don’t win that way. You’ve got to find a way to get it done, and that’s mental toughness. Everyone goes through streaks – good, bad and all that,” he said. “For some reason, we drop our work ethic on the power play. When you do, the penalty killers are the hardest working players on the ice because they are short a guy. That’s no different than our penalty killers. They go hard, short and get off. If you think you’re going to out and play 70-80 percent, you’re in trouble. We’ve been touching on it all year, and it has to sink in.”
-- On the other side of the ice, the Rangers’ special teams won the game. Ryan McDonagh netted a shorthanded goal on a three-on-two rush to tie the game 1-1, and Derek Stepan scored a five-on-three goal late in the third, finishing off a cross-crease pass from Martin St. Louis. “The tough thing is we were short on D,” Muller said, noting that John-Michael Liles did not play in the third period due to an undisclosed injury while Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore were in the penalty box for delay of game (puck over glass) minors. “We had three defensemen. That’s a tough kill on our penalty killers for a couple of minutes.”
-- Some random notes from tonight’s contest: Andrej Sekera logged his 400th NHL game, skating a team-high 22:45 of ice time. … This was just the Canes’ third regulation loss of the season when scoring first (17-3-4) and their second regulation loss of the season when leading after two periods (15-2-3). … The Rangers have now won each of the last 10 meetings with the Canes and have scored four or more goals in eight of those games.
-- Quick turnaround from this one, as the Canes will take on the Devils tomorrow night in New Jersey, the second of three straight games against divisional opponents. “It will be a test of our character,” Muller said. “We keep saying that you have to battle every night. Win or lose, it’s a playoff mentality. The game is over, and you have to get right back on the horse and be ready to go again.”
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Derek Stepan scored with 1:46 remaining while on a 5-on-3 power play, lifting the New York Rangers to a 4-2 comeback win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 22 shots in his 23rd win of the season for the Rangers, who have defeated the Hurricanes 10 straight times.
With Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore in the box each for delay-of-game (puck over the glass), the Rangers had 1:29 of a 5-on-3. They patiently moved the puck until Martin St. Louis centered to Stepan for the go-ahead goal 1:12 into it.
Carl Hagelin scored into an empty net for the last of the Rangers' four third-period goals.
With Carolina leading 1-0 in the third period, New York tied the game on Ryan McDonagh's shorthanded goal at 7:25. Rick Nash skated the puck up the left wing before leaving a drop pass for McDonagh, who beat Anton Khudobin between the pads for his 11th of the season.
Less than five minutes later, Jeff Skinner gave Carolina a 2-1 on his first penalty-shot goal. He earned the chance when he was tied up by Anton Stralman on a breakaway. Skinner beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot over the glove at 12:07.
New York tied the game again when Nash's centering pass deflected into the net at 13:24.
Carolina's Jordan Staal opened the scoring with 2:11 remaining in the first period. Alexander Semin chipped the puck along the wall, where Staal gathered it and sent a short-side wrister over Lundqvist's glove. The goal was the first in 11 games for Staal.
New York failed to convert twice on two power plays, but the Rangers wore down the Hurricanes and held an 11-2 advantage in shots after 17 minutes, and finished the first period with a 15-7 edge.
The Hurricanes had a prime opportunity to extend their lead midway through the second period. With Hagelin in the box for holding, Brian Boyle was whistled for elbowing, giving Carolina 43 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play. But the Rangers limited the Hurricanes to one shot.
Khudobin, who signed to a two-year contract extension Tuesday, was at his best in the second period. The best of his 40 saves came on a 2-on-1 when he stopped Hagelin's wrist shot then fought off a rebound bid with an extended left pad.
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