With apologies to James Taylor, “Beating Carolina from behind,” continues to be a Rangers refrain.
The Rangers scored three goals in the third period and came from behind three times as they ended the Carolina Hurricanes’ 11-game winning streak with an impressive 5-3 win at a raucous Madison Square Garden last night.
Rangers have won two in a row and are 10-2-1 in their last 13 games.
It was the first game between the teams since the Rangers rallied from a three games to two deficit to beat Carolina in seven games in the Eastern Conference second round series last May.
Igor Shesterkin stopped 20 of 23 shots while the Rangers outshot Carolina, 31-23 including a 14-7 advantage in the third period when they assumed control of the game. Hurricanes 23-year-old goalie Pyotr Kochetkov made 26 saves.
The Rangers did not play a complete game by any means, but they rallied with another strong third period that was reminiscent of last season. “That happened a little bit more last year, compared to this season. I think this group has been prepared for that,.” said K’Andre Miller, who scored the game winning goal in the third period. “We’ve been through stuff like that, back and forth games, so I think it was just about us and sticking with it tonight.”
What made this win even sweeter was that the Rangers became the first team to beat Carolina in regulation, who had not lost when they led heading to the third period. Before this one, the Hurricanes had been 16-0-2 when leading heading after two. The last time that Carolina lost in regulation before last night was November 23rd.
“They’ve been one of the hottest teams in the NHL the last number of games, a top team in the league,” Head Coach Gerard Gallant said. “We weren’t perfect tonight, we got some puck luck tonight and we were fortunate tonight. Again, it’s a big win, it’s a good game and we just gotta continue to build off games like this.”
The Rangers were resilient and they needed to be because after tying the game twice, the Hurricanes scored the go ahead goal in less than 30 seconds each time.
After Hurricanes’ defenseman Brent Burns poked a loose puck past Shesterkin to give Carolina a 1-0 lead at 7:24 of the first period, the Rangers tied the game with a power play goal.
With Sebastian Aho in the box for hooking, Jacob Trouba fired a shot from the point that deflected off of a Hurricanes’ player’s skate to beat Kochetkov and tie the game at one.
The tie lasted 16 seconds when Carolina came right back and retook the lead on a goal by Martin Necas. Carolina’s Andre Svechnikov found Necas wide open in the left face off circle for a one timer and a 2-1 lead after one.
The Rangers appeared to be sluggish in the first period as Carolina’s relentless forecheck kept them pinned in their own zone for extended periods.
“I thought the start to the game, first period wasn’t very good from our side,” said Mika Zibanejad, one of four Rangers who had a goal and an assist. “It was a close game, tied the game in the second, they scored again, we just kept going. I thought we played great in the third period and got the win.”
Early in the second period, the Rangers second power play goal tied the game for a second time.
Zibanejad was wide open in the slot but appeared to be making a pass toward the front of the net, but the puck went past Kochetkov to tie the game at two. This time, 29 seconds went by before Carolina got the lead for a third time.
Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield shot the puck, but Filip Chytil had it deflect off of his stick and past Shesterkin as the Hurricanes took a 3-2 lead after two periods.
Miller said the Rangers found their game in the third period. “Once we kinda regrouped in the second intermission, we kinda came out with a different intensity.”
The Rangers needed a quick start to the third period and Artemi Panarin obliged just 36 seconds in.
Panarin carried the puck from behind the Hurricanes net and around a number of players until he got to the slot and fired the puck past Kochetkov to tie the game for a third time. The Rangers had the momentum and took their first lead with a little over nine and a half minutes left in regulation.
Miller has lifted his game of late, particularly on offense and it was his aggressive play that led to the go ahead score.
The 22-year old defenseman picked up the puck in the neutral zone and began the play. Kappo Kakko, who continues to play well, played the puck from behind the net and fed Zibanejad, who fired a one timer from the point. Miller was able to get his stick on it and score his third goal of the season to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead.
“It’s a little bit more of a read, I’m seeing plays when they open up,” Miller said. “They’d been pretty aggressive throughout the neutral zone. Kinda throwing pucks in the d-zone, I thought I recognized one of those and made a good play on it.”
Kakko has 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in his last 12 games and had thrived on the top line with Zibanejad and Kreider.
“Kakko’s been outstanding, he’s been one of our best players the last three games,” Gallant said. That’s what you’re looking for, take off, keep playing with confidence. He’s played great hockey with those two guys [Kreider and Zibanjejad].
Shesterkin had to make a couple of key saves to preserve the lead including stoning Carolina’s Seth Jarvis who was wide open in front with less than six minutes remaining.
Chytil capped off the scoring with an empty net goal on the power play as the Rangers came away with what has to be described as a significant win. The Rangers were 3 for 5 with the man advantage and 3 for 3 in penalty kill.
The Rangers have been streak busters before. A little less than a month ago, the Rangers ended Toronto’s 15-game unbeaten streak.
Miller, who was the #1 star, admitted the Rangers don’t concern themselves with what the opposition has done. “It’s a big game. I don’t think we’re too worried about their record and shutting down their streaks and things like that,” he said.