Rangers fail to clinch playoff spot after loss to Carolina

Alexandra Russo

Rangers vs Hurricanes 3-31

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers knew how important a win could be when they took on the Hurricanes, as they would have clinched a playoff berth with a regulation or overtime win. However, they fell short of that goal and lost 4-3 in Eric Staal’s return to Carolina.

This wound up being the first win for the Hurricanes against the Rangers in 10 games, with the Rangers nine game win streak coming to an end. That streak began in April of 2014. New York closed out the season series with a 3-1-0 record against Carolina.

Surprisingly, the Rangers started out slower than expected for a team that was competing for a playoff berth. Henrik Lundqvist came up big in the first five minutes of the game for his team. He went side to side to prevent a goal on a rebound by Brad Malone.

As expected, Eric Staal had an emotional night in his return to Carolina for the first time since being traded to the Rangers in February. It was easy to see his adrenaline was pumping, as he came out strong with a great chance in front. He tried to slide the puck between the pads of Ward, but he closed them in time to prevent his former teammate from scoring on him.

Dominic Moore took a tripping penalty, but it didn’t cost his team this time, as they have been perfect on the penalty kill for the past three games coming into this one.

11:05 into the first period, Carolina’s sustained offensive pressure was rewarded. They had outshot the Rangers 10-1 at that point, and Patrick Brown capitalized on a long rebound from the boards. He shot the puck over Lundqvist’s shoulder for the one goal advantage. This was also his first NHL goal.

The Rangers had a power play of their own later in the period but were unable to convert. Contrary to their more recent power plays, this one looked lifeless. They continued to lack in any offensive pressure whatsoever.

Lundqvist stood tall in net in this first period of play, stopping 12 of 13 shots due to his team’s poor performance. As Joe Micheletti said, “It must have been one of their worst periods of the season.” The only good sign was in the final minute of play in the period when the Rangers had some sustained pressure in the Hurricanes’ zone.

The second period started out fast for the Rangers as only 1:36 in, they tied the game up at one. Derek Stepan got the puck down low from Boyle and made a fast pass across the front of the net to Zuccarello. Zucc wasted no time burying the shot behind Ward for his 25th of the season. He continues his race with Brassard for most goals on the team. Brassard currently has 27 on the season.

The Rangers had finally found their stride, and 5:03 into the period, Miller and McDonagh tallied assists on Rick Nash’s 15th goal of the season. He raced in on Pesce, and though he was hooked, he used his strength to fight off the defender and snapped one that beat Ward top shelf for the 2-1 lead.

The Rangers had a power play but didn’t convert on it again. The power play looked very different the past two times. Most times, it starts with a faceoff win for the Rangers before they bring it back to the point. However, they struggled with those faceoffs and couldn’t control the play, resulting in the puck being dumped down the ice.

It took a little over 11 minutes for the Hurricanes to record a single shot on net in the second period. It had appeared the teams had switched roles at this point, as now the Rangers had the 10-1 shot advantage.

Despite his team’s poor play, Justin Faulk found the back of the net as he fired a long shot through a maze of people. Lundqvist was screened on the goal but still wanted that one back as he hadn’t faced too many shots in the period to that point, but the score was tied at two.

The Rangers’ third power play of the game finally looked like the power play Rangers’ fans have been used to seeing for quite some time now. At 17:18 of the middle period, Stepan dumped the puck down the ice, but Chris Kreider negated a possible icing call by using his great speed. Kreider got to the puck and snapped it by the shoulder of Ward. The goal looked similar to Nash’s, as they both used their speed and physicality to go top shelf.

Just about five minutes into the third period of play, a miscommunication in front of the net by the Rangers left Jeff Skinner wide open to tip a shot past Lundqvist for a tie game.

JT Miller took a high sticking penalty, and Viktor Rask scored to put Carolina up 4-3. After some controversy over whether the play was offsides, the call stood on the ice. And the game had taken a dramatic turn in Carolina’s favor.

Zuccarello had numerous opportunities in the final push as Lundqvist headed to the bench. The Rangers fought hard to the end but weren’t rewarded for it, as they were defeated.

The Penguins have now taken over possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division with their 5-2 win over the Predators. The Islanders also won, and are now two points behind the Rangers with a game in hand. It’s insanely tight in this division, what a shocker. But time is winding down in the regular season, and if the Rangers want to secure a solid position in the 2016 Playoffs, they need to start playing better hockey. Fast.

Posted on April 1, 2016, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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