The Carolina Hurricanes (34-28-16) rallied to beat the New York Rangers (43-25-9) 4-3 Wednesday night. Continuing to showcase a younger core of new players as they continue to make progress under head coach Bill Peters.
The Hurricanes commanded the early play, resulting in a goal from Patrick Brown. Jeff Skinner contributed a hard cross-corner blast from behind the blue line and Brown gathered the puck off the glass before sending it past Henrik Lundqvist, who had 24 saves on the night. The Hurricanes outshot the Rangers 13-4 in the first period, generating quality shots on net. Lundqvist made some spectacular saves early on to keep the Rangers in it as they struggled to find their footing throughout the duration of the first period. The Rangers would rally take a 2-1 lead in the second before ultimately falling to Carolina after a raucous crowd cheered them on in what amounted to a dominate third period showing by the Hurricanes. Justin Faulk’s 16th goal of the season tied things up at two a piece and second period.
The Hurricanes would give up the lead again before rallying with two goals late in the third to win it. Patrick Brown scored his first NHL goal and assist, and Sergey Tolchinsky, playing in his first NHL game, set up a tying goal in the second period. Following the departures of Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg, and John-Michael Liles prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, the Hurricanes have sought to give their younger prospects and up-and-coming players a chance to showcase their skills on the ice. Carolina has played at an above average level since March 1st, accumulating a 6-2-5 record. Auditioning and calling up several players from the American Hockey League (AHL) has allowed this team to continue to find new talent as they move forward into next year and beyond.
Coming into the game the Rangers owned a 3-0 record against the Hurricanes this season. However, Carolina showed resiliency throughout the game as they managed to erase two one-goal deficits, receiving two key contributions from a fourth line comprised of a younger core of players that had seen little playing time early on in the season. With the loss, the Rangers fell into third place in the Metroplitan Division and failed to clinch a berth into the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers now sit one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and two points ahead of the fourth-place New York Islanders.
As mentioned above, Eric Staal was traded earlier this season to the Rangers at the trade deadline. The night was filled with emotion for him as he returned to the place where he has called home for the prior 12 seasons of his NHL career. Eric Staal played in 909 games for the Hurricanes before being traded to the Rangers on Feb. 28th. He received a standing ovation from the crowd after a video tribute was shown during the first television timeout of the first period. Staal played sparingly, finishing the night with two shots and three hits in his 11:40 of time on the ice.
Carolina has four games remaining and only a remote chance to make the playoffs. The Hurricanes are no longer playing so much for this season but instead have their sights set on next season and beyond. Continuing to find new talent and developing their young core gives the fan base and the rest of the NHL reason to be optimistic heading into next season.