On October 29th, 2010, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Rangers by a score of 4-3 at Madison Square Garden. That win brought a curse upon the Canes, as since then they are winless at the world’s most famous arena. On Tuesday night the Hurricanes traveled to New York to face-off against the Blueshirts, in what was essentially a must-win for Carolina in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Both squads had been struggling prior to last night’s contest, with the Rangers entering on a three-game skid, and the Canes having won only three of their last 11. Unfortunately for Carolina, the Boys in Blue played spoiler, and extended their losing streak at MSG to 15 games.
Despite the disappointment and dejection in the locker room following the Blueshirts’ 4-3 shootout loss at the hands of the streaking Panthers, the Rangers rebounded well and came to play on Tuesday. 9:06 into the first frame, Mats Zuccarello opened the scoring. Neal Pionk’s slap shot sailed wide of the cage, but took a fortuitous bounce off the boards and ended up on the stick of Zuc, who found the back of the net. The Norwegian playmaker has now tallied in three consecutive games. Later on in the first, it was Teuvo Terravainen who found a loose puck in front of the Rangers’ net and jammed it home for his 20th goal of the season, knotting the score at one.
The Blueshirts would regain the lead in the middle period, when Pavel Buchnevich perfectly executed a face-off play, winning the draw to himself, and then feeding a beautiful backhand-pass to Jimmy Vesey, who snapped it past Scott Darling. The Hurricanes would tie the game again, and this time it was former Ranger Lee Stempniak who cleaned up a rebound and beat Alexandar Georgiev from in close. About four minutes later, the Rangers reclaimed the lead, as Vlad Namestnikov notched his second as a Blueshirt, his first at MSG, and his 22nd goal of the season. Giving the Boys in Blue a 3-2 lead, Namestnikov deflected fellow Russian Pavel Buchnevich’s shot past Darling.
The Rangers and Hurricanes continued to alternate goals with Carolina tying the game for the third time in the final frame. Viktor Rask’s laser made the score 3 apiece, but the Rangers would respond yet again. Their answer came from the stick of Jimmy Vesey, who absolutely sniped one over the shoulder of Darling. The Canes started to look like they would mount their fourth comeback of the game, but some timely saves from Alexandar Georgiev halted their efforts. With Scott Darling out of his cage and Carolina utilizing an extra attacker, the Rangers would score not one, but two empty-net goals to seal the deal. The first came from Mats Zuccarello, which marked the 100th goal of his career, and the second from Jimmy Vesey, who completed his first career hat-trick thanks to the empty-netter.
Vesey does it again and again and again! 🎩🎩🎩
👀 all 🚨🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/xF4tcPFUPC
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 13, 2018
The Blueshirts filled up the score-sheet in their feel-good-triumph a night ago. Besides Vesey and Zuccarello’s two goals each, Pavel Buchnevich recorded three primary assists and was dominant all over the ice, Mika Zibanejad quietly posted three secondary helpers, Neal Pionk added another apple and now has 6 since his call-up which is more than any other Rangers’ defenseman in that span, and finally rookie goaltender Alexandar Georgiev continued to show great promise, as he picked up his second career win and first at the garden, stopping 41 of 44 shots. And of course Ryan Spooner notched another assist, adding to his already astounding point total. He now has 13 in 8 games on Broadway! The one negative from the Blueshirts’ victory was the gruesome ankle injury suffered by Tony DeAngelo in the second period. He will be out long-term, therefore Ryan Sproul will be recalled from the Hartford Wolfpack.
Georgiev will be rewarded for his stellar play between the pipes with another start in the Blueshirts’ next game, when they battle the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden, serving as NBC’s Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup (8:00 PM, MSG).
Brian Paget is on Twitter @BrianPaget17