Tracking the Storm: Postgame
-- Four days ago, the Carolina Hurricanes saw their 1-0 third-period lead turn into a 4-2 loss at the hands of the New York Rangers. Tonight, the Canes ensured their third-period lead was safe, as they prevailed 3-1. Jiri Tlusty, Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm found the back of the net for Carolina, and Cam Ward made 24 saves in his first win since Dec. 31 vs. Montreal. “There’s still a lot of fight with these guys. We’ve battled hard,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “I thought our guys’ compete level was really high tonight. We won a lot of the races and battles, and we played smart.”
-- Staal and Tlusty combined for four points, as they each tallied a goal and an assist in virtually mirrored goals. Tlusty’s second-period strike came as Staal fed him in the slot for the one-timer. Late in the same period, Tlusty returned the favor to Staal on a two-on-zero breakdown, a goal that gave the Canes a 2-1 lead which they carried into the third period. “Our line was good, and hopefully we can keep that going,” Staal said. “It was a good game. We did a lot of good things on both sides of the puck.”
-- Muller on the team’s second line of Tlusty, Staal and Semin: “That line can play both ways. They’re playing against the top lines right now. You feel very confident that they’re good defensively,” he said, noting their offensive firepower, as well. “That’s got to be one of Jordan’s best games. We needed him to step up tonight, and he did.”
-- Unlike Friday’s game versus the Rangers, the Canes were able to sustain their third-period lead and then add to it late, as Lindholm cleaned up a rebound left by a shot from Jeff Skinner. “With Lindholm playing really well and Skinner scoring again, it gives us another look with Eric’s line now,” Muller said.
-- Ward wasn’t challenged too much, as he faced 25 shots through 60 minutes, but he was sharp when he needed to be. His performance tonight was an extension and a building block on his relief effort in New Jersey. “I did feel good coming off the bench, and I wanted to feed off that,” Ward said. “I just went out and played. Tonight I wanted to do that, and good things happened.”
-- More candid Ward on his long-overdue seventh win of the season: “I can be honest and admit that it has been a mental struggle for myself. I haven’t had that much of an opportunity to get back in [net]. I know I compliment Dobby for the way he’s played, and I’m really, really happy for him. He’s made it difficult for me to get back in the net. That’s just the way it’s been. When you don’t play, you put so much emphasis on one game that it gets you thinking too much. Tonight I was just able to shut it off and have some fun.”
-- Muller on Ward: “The big word on sports teams is chemistry. For us to move forward here from now to the end, your best players have to come up big. He’s one of the leaders of this team,” he said. “I think he wanted it. He’s looked more comfortable in the last three or four days. I thought he looked good in Jersey. We gave him the opportunity, and it was great. I think a lot of guys were happy for him that he got the big win tonight.”
-- Some odds and ends: Tonight was Jay Harrison’s 300th NHL game. … The Canes’ win snaps a 10-game losing streak (six at home) against the Rangers, dating back to Jan. 20, 2011 at PNC Arena. … Andrej Sekera has tallied eight points (2g, 6a) in as many games since returning from the Olympic break. He ranks third on the team and tied for eighth among league defensemen in scoring with 40 points (11g, 29a). … Jordan Staal and Skinner now each have points in three straight games.
-- Though the Canes’ playoff hopes might yet be slim, they remain mathematically in the hunt. With that in mind, they get back to work on Thursday versus Buffalo before a back-to-back set over the weekend in Boston and back home against Edmonton. “We’ve worked too hard to give up. It’s not in our favor right now, but anything can happen,” Ward said. “It’s still important to have that belief in the locker room.”
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jiri Tlusty and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist, and goaltender Cam Ward stopped 24 shots to help the Carolina Hurricanes end a 10-game losing streak to the New York Rangers with a 3-1 victory at PNC Arena on Tuesday night.
Ward, who has battled a lower-body injury for much of the season, earned his first win since defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in overtime on Dec. 31. Carolina had not beaten the Rangers since a 4-1 home victory on Jan. 20, 2011, and lost 4-2 to the Rangers in Raleigh this past Friday.
New York (35-27-4) remained second in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carolina (28-28-9) is seventh in the division and trails the Philadelphia Flyers by eight points in the race for the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference.
After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes opened the scoring 33 seconds into the second. Alexander Semin sent a backhand shot wide, but Carolina controlled the puck in the offensive zone until Jordan Staal slipped a pass to Tlusty in front, and Tlusty beat Henrik Lundqvist for his 11th goal of the season.
The Rangers answered at 4:22 with defenseman Kevin Klein's second goal of the season. Mats Zuccarello skated the puck below the Carolina goal line before leaving a pass for Klein, whose shot from between the circles went over Ward's glove.
Staal put the Hurricanes ahead to stay, starting and finishing a 2-on-1 break. Staal wrapped a pass around defenseman Anton Stralman to Tlusty, who sent a return feed to Staal for an easy tap-in at the right side of the net. It was Staal's 13th goal of the season
Rookie Elias Lindholm scored his sixth goal of the season with 5:29 remaining in regulation.
The Hurricanes held a 13-5 advantage in shots in the first period, with both teams having multiple chances on the power play. The Rangers squandered 3:37 with the man advantage, giving up shot attempts in favor of passes around the Carolina net. The Hurricanes kept Lundqvist busy, firing from a variety of angles and testing him in close quarters.