After trailing for a majority of the game’s first 40 minutes, the Rangers made their first and only lead count.
K’Andre Miller scored the game-winning goal just over halfway through the third period, when the 22-year-old defenseman tipped in a Mika Zibanejad shot from the top of the zone to help propel the Rangers to a 5-3 win over the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Carolina, whose 11-game win streak was snapped, was well on its way to extending its point streak to 18 games in a row, but the Rangers buckled down just in time to pull out the win in the teams’ first meeting since they ended Carolina’s season in the second round of last spring’s playoffs.
Every time the Rangers pulled even and tried to catch their breath, the puck would drop at center ice and the Hurricanes were already swarming the offensive zone to retake the lead. Twice, the Rangers’ goal announcement hadn’t even been made before Carolina scored another to keep the home team at a one-goal distance.
Jacob Trouba’s power-play goal may have made it a 1-1 game in the first period, but that score only lasted 16 seconds.
The Rangers got caught puck-watching at the other end as the Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov fed Martin Necas for a one-timer that gave Carolina the lead going into the first intermission.
Zibanejad’s pass attempt to Vincent Trocheck on the power play may have slid right through Canes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov to knot the game at two-all in the second period, but that score only lasted 29 seconds.
The Rangers couldn’t break the puck out of their zone, which allowed Hurricanes’ defenseman Jalen Chatfield to score off a tip by Filip Chytil for the 3-2 lead going into the second intermission.
It wasn’t until Artemi Panarin’s game-tying tally 36 seconds into the third period that the Rangers actively braced themselves for the Hurricanes’ retaliatory push. Third time’s the charm. Still, the Rangers scored just in time to give themselves a chance against the No. 2 team in the NHL.
The Hurricanes were a force on the forecheck and the Rangers struggled with it. Holding the zone after Igor Shesterkin denied Necas’ one-timer in the slot, Carolina put the puck back on net and Brent Burns smacked it home through a scramble in front to open the scoring in the first period. The Rangers had trouble breaking out of their zone for much of the night, which allowed the Canes to do what they do best and overwhelm the home team in the dangerous areas of the ice.
Despite the top power-play unit’s recent success — when they went 2-for-4 on the man-advantage against the Panthers this past weekend — it was the second power-play group that put the Rangers on the board in the first period Tuesday. Trouba’s shot from the top of the zone clipped Carolina defenseman Chatfield’s skate and went in, which counted as the second power-play unit’s second goal of the season.