- The Carolina Hurricanes were headed toward two points in the standings and another win over a team fighting for its playoff life when the New York Rangers were gift-wrapped a power play on a marginal (at best) penalty call on Tuomo Ruutu. Brad Richards got credit for the game-tying goal, a shot that glanced off the end-boards, ricocheted off Dan Ellis’ skate and into the net. Bounces haven’t gone the team’s way lately, but they deserved better tonight. “I’m really pleased with the effort and the way the guys played tonight,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “We did everything we wanted, but a call at the end kind of changed the game.”
- Muller didn’t mince words on the penalty call at the 15:12 mark of the third period: “We could be a team that goes out there and just finishes up these last few games, but with respect to the league, we’re going out to win every game. Our guys went out and did that. Yeah, it’s tough.”
- Results aside, the dominant story line of tonight’s game was the NHL debut of Jared Staal, who skated alongside his brothers Eric and Jordan for the first time. Muller is not one to shy away from the symbolic starting lineup, so of course the brothers started on a line to begin the game, a moment the Staal family will certainly remember for some time to come. “You’re looking at a bit of history in hockey,” Muller said. “It was fun, and I think the fans enjoyed it. The players on the team thought it was fun.”
- More Muller on the No. 11, 12 and 13 starting line: “That’s something they’re going to remember the rest of their lives,” he said. “We’re in the NHL, but we’ve got to remember it’s just a game sometimes. It’s about living in the moment.”
- Jared on lining up next to his brothers on the blue line during the national anthem: “That was pretty neat. I didn’t expect it until the coach announced it right before we were going out there,” he said. “It was kind of surreal, and it’s still kind of like that right now.”
- Jared finished the game with 12:16 of ice time in 17 even-strength shifts. He posted one shot on goal (and two blocked), five hits, a takeaway in the neutral zone and a blocked shot. “It’s got to be even more than I imagined. You don’t really know until it happens, and it was really cool,” he said of his debut. “You grow up watching it every night, and to be able to be that guy that’s skating on the ice in the NHL is really cool.”
- Muller on Jared’s first game in the NHL: “I was really pleased with him. He did all the right things. He played within his limitations.”
- Jiri Tlusty ranks fifth in the NHL in goals with 23. He’s added 14 assists for 37 points and a plus-17 rating in what has been a banner season for the 25-year-old forward.
- Winning board battles has been an emphasis of the coaching staff, and Kevin Westgarth did just that on Ruutu’s game-tying goal. He fended off three Rangers along the boards in the neutral zone to chip the puck ahead to Ruutu, who did the rest. Westgarth has an assist in each of his last two games.
- Jay Harrison took a puck to the face in the second period. He went down writhing in pain, but skated, bleeding, off the ice. He did not return to the game. Joe Corvo, who took the morning skate, was scratched with an upper-body injury, already putting the Hurricanes down a skater to begin the game.
- The Hurricanes will close out the 2012-13 season in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The Canes haven’t seen positive results all too often lately, but they’ve deserved better on many nights, including tonight. “One thing I don’t think anyone can say is that there was quit in these guys,” Muller said. “They’ve been battling hard, and they’ve been playing hard.”
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Rangers captain Ryan Callahan scored 2:55 into overtime, and New York rallied to clinch a third straight Eastern Conference playoff berth by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Thursday night.
Brad Richards tied it for the Rangers with 2:57 remaining in regulation after New York blew an early 2-0 lead and fell behind already-eliminated Carolina.
Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard staked the Rangers to the lead in the first period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 18 shots for New York, which jumped over the rival Islanders and into seventh place in the East with one game left.
Jiri Tlusty had two goals and Tuomo Ruutu also scored for Carolina, which played without injured forward Alexander Semin. He sat out after sustaining a concussion that will also sideline him for the season finale at Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Dan Ellis finished with 34 saves for Carolina.
The Rangers pushed this one into overtime with a bizarre goal. Richards uncorked a shot from the blue line that bounced hard off the end boards and clicked off Ellis' right skate and into his own net.
Callahan then ended it in OT by snapping a shot off the post and past Ellis, sending the Rangers spilling onto the ice in celebration.
That capped a remarkable reversal after the Hurricanes led for most of the third period.
Tlusty's second goal was scored 49 seconds into the period and put the Hurricanes up 3-2.
It was Carolina's only shot of the first 18 1/2 minutes of the third period, and it came after the Hurricanes - who have piled up huge shot totals all season - managed just four in the second period yet scored on two.
Tlusty pulled Carolina within 2-1 when he scored on the power play 4:51 into the second. Ruutu tied it 3 minutes later with a wrist shot from the circle.
That put all the pressure on the Rangers, who were trying to avoid their second straight loss to a non-playoff team from the Southeast Division with a postseason spot on the line for them.
New York was in danger of dropping below the postseason cutoff if it lost to Carolina.
The Hurricanes had long since been eliminated from playoff contention, so for them, this game was meaningful for a different reason.
Forward Jared Staal, recalled from the minor leagues on Wednesday, joined two of his older brothers in the starting lineup against the Rangers - fourth brother Marc's team - though he has been out since early March after taking a puck to his eye.
It is the 10th time that three brothers played for the same team in the same season in North American major pro sports history and the first time since the Statsnys did it for the Quebec Nordiques in 1985, according to STATS.
It didn't take Stepan long to remind everyone that this was a hockey game, not a family reunion. He streaked down the center of the ice, took a cross-ice pass from Carl Hagelin and slipped the puck between Ellis' pads at 3:19.
Brassard made it 2-0 with 4:08 left in the first when he slipped unchecked behind the net, scooped up a loose puck and whipped it into an open net.
But that was it until Richards and Callahan came up with their big goals.
NOTES: D Michael Del Zotto and Hagelin both had two assists for the Rangers. ... Carolina D Jay Harrison didn't return after leaving with a bloody face. He was struck by a wrist shot by Callahan 2:36 into the second. Harrison wasn't wearing a visor. ... Carolina D Justin Faulk was voted team MVP, and RW Patrick Dwyer won the Josef Vasicek Award for cooperation with local media in voting by the local Professional Hockey Writers Association. ... Carolina D Tim Gleason was selected by his teammates as the Steve Chiasson Award winner for determination and dedication.