In their first home game of the decade that is days away from ending, the Rangers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes. Last night, in the final home game of the 2010’s, the Rangers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes.
Unlike the first home game of the decade when the Rangers lost 2-1 in overtime on January 2nd, 2000, the Blueshirts finished this decade with a different outcome last night. The common thread for both those games was the Ranger goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist.
Lundqvist made 39 saves as he continued his personal dominance of Carolina in a 5-3 win. The Ranger goaltender improved to 3-0 this season against Carolina nd 33-12-1 in his career. “They have good speed, but, for whatever reason, we find ways to win,” Lundqvist said after the game.
The Rangers got two goals from Mike Zibanejad and goals from the remarkable Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, who gave the Rangers a two goal after Carolina had cut the deficit to one in the third period.
Following the game, my colleague, SportsTalk NY Radio Host Mark Rosenman brought up the bookend home games to Lundqvist, who laughed and then reflected on a decade that saw him win 299 of his 458 career victories, a Vezina Trophy in 2012 and a playoff run in 2014 that culminated with a five game defeat in the Stanley Cup Final.
“It just makes you feel a little older but there’s been so many fond memories,” said the winningest goaltender in franchise history. “Thinking back early on in this decade, where we were as a team and how close we were to winning. We were a really good team. It’s been a great journey, this decade.”
Looking back to that first home game of the 2010’s, there’s only one player on the current roster that was on the ice with Lundqvist and that’s Mark Staal.
Two players that were not on the ice in that first game are helping Lundqvist add to his win total. Panarin, who seems to make the score sheet every night, continued his stellar play with a goal and two assists while Zibanejad’s two goals give him 12 on the season and 7 in his last seven games.
The Rangers have struggled on the power play this season but Zibanejad took advantage of the extra man to tie the game at one in the first period. “We’d been having some pretty good looks on the power play, we haven’t been able to convert,” the Rangers center said after the game. “We got two so hopefully, that will get us going now.”
The Rangers are chasing Carolina for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference so this was a four point game in many respects. With the win, the Rangers are six points behind the Hurricanes instead of ten. “Good step in the right direction here,” said Zibanejad. “All these divisional games are very important.”
The decade of Henrik Lundqvist ends with a win. The more things change, some still remain the same.