RALEIGH, N.C. – A weekend of exhilarating wins carried into a deep momentum drop by Tuesday for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Winners of three straight and 8 of their last 10 games, the Hurricanes were unable to beat goaltender Henrik Lundqvist enough and suffered a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers as a result.
Jordan Martinook was the only one who knocked a puck past Lundqvist who made 43 saves and denied Carolina a valuable two points in the chase for a wildcard playoff spot.
Connor Brickley and Vladislav Namestnikov tallied the Ranger goals as Hurricanes starter Curtis McElhinney suffered his first loss in his last five starts with a 24-save finish.
“He was good, our guy was good,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said of the two keepers’ play.
“But he (Lundqvist) made a few more saves especially at the end. It was a tough loss because we played well enough – a good 60 minutes but just didn’t score.”
No goal, good goal
Martinook’s 13th of the year came at the 9:53 mark of the second and put Carolina ahead 1-0.
It didn’t take New York long to even it up following a disputed and reviewed play that had the puck bouncing off Brickley’s body and past McElhinney.
The initial call was no goal, but upon review it was determined that Brickley’s momentum with his body toward the airborne puck was unintentional in directing it into the net.
“Yeah, we thought it was going to be a goal,” Rangers coach David Quinn said.
“We saw it clearly that it went off his chest.”
Lack of power and finish
Both teams’ power play units went scoreless throughout, the Hurricanes going 0-for-2 during the first two periods.
Carolina’s penalty trouble in the third didn’t help as the Rangers had three of their four power plays during that time.
Though unable to score with the man-advantage, Namestnikov’s seventh goal of the season put the Rangers ahead with the eventual game winner at the 6:10 mark.
“It’s always tough when you get penalties; on the kill I thought we did a nice job,” Brind’Amour said.
“Then really at the end of that (penalty kill) it bounced over our stick on the clear and they just pounced on it. Unfortunate bounces, but hockey’s random like that.”
Outshooting New York 18-10 during the final 20 minutes, Carolina was simply unable to beat Lundqvist.
Most notably, leading scorer Sebastian Aho was kept of the score sheet, now goal-less in eight straight games.
Still on the outside looking in
While the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens posted wins, a loss for the Columbus Blue Jackets kept the Hurricanes sitting one point out of the wild card spot.
“Every game is so huge for us right now,” Martinook said.
“Obviously, we wish we got one there and tie it up and get two or one (point) even, but it just wasn’t there for us tonight.”
“It’s going to be one of those things with where we’re at and a few other teams, we’re gonna be in some nights, and out some nights,” McElhinney added.
“So, it’s just a matter of continuing to move on.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport