RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t take any steps forward in earning an NHL wildcard playoff spot.
It was too many missteps defensively that cost them the chance to do so.
As a result, the New York Rangers took advantage of the turnovers that were presented to them, and handed the Hurricanes a 4-1 loss at PNC Arena on Friday.
Joakim Nordstrom scored the lone goal for Carolina, his third of the season, while goaltender Eddie Lack made 28 saves in recording the loss.
J.T. Miller’s two goals along with singles from Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle provided the Rangers the offensive output they needed to post the win.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist posted his 23rd career win over Carolina with his 30-save performance on the night.
“Good team – they’re quick and they capitalized on our mistakes and decision-making,” Carolina head coach Bill Peters said.
“We didn’t make many plays for 60 minutes.”
Following a 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, Lack’s first shutout victory with Carolina, the Hurricanes flew back in the early hours of the morning before a winter storm engulfed the area throughout the day.
It seemed that playing the second of a back-to-back set under those circumstances worked to New York’s favor as the Rangers added a third consecutive win over the Hurricanes this season.
“They were quicker on the forecheck,” Peters said.
“They established their game early, got the lead and played with the lead all night.”
It was New York’s 14th win in the two teams’ last 15 meetings, as well as the 11th in which the Rangers scored four goals against the Hurricanes.
“We were ready to go – I thought we were competitive,” captain Eric Staal said.
“We just made mistakes that we can’t make and they capitalized.”
While being outshot 31-20 during the first two periods of play, Carolina’s sense of urgency resulted in a final period in which they put 12 pucks on Lundqvist, but to no avail.
Their lone power play opportunity of the game with 9:10 to go came up empty and the Hurricanes couldn’t pull any closer.
It was a game lost under circumstances which Carolina has benefited for most of the season.
The Hurricanes have posted a 16-6-2 record in back-to-back games thus far this season, including a 9-3-0 record in the front halves of those sets, and a 7-3-2 record in the back halves.
Although it was an opportunity lost against a divisional opponent, Carolina is still within three points of a playoff spot.
Alternate captain Jordan Staal’s mindset was to move forward and to prepare to face the Calgary Flames on Sunday.
“We’re a team that’s going to show up tomorrow ready to work and move forward,” Staal concluded.
“We’re gonna keep tryin’ and improve our game the way we wanna play.”