RALEIGH, N.C. – They fired pucks early, often and from everywhere, but they just couldn’t score enough.
That’s what happened to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night when they suffered their third loss in a row, a 4-2 decision to the New York Rangers.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continued his career dominance over the Canes, equaling his season-high of 47 shots faced while making a season-high 45 saves to earn the win for the Rangers.
Even though Dougie Hamilton and Sebastian Aho were able to get on the score sheet, Carolina’s efforts couldn’t surpass chasing one and two-goal leads.
Petr Mrazek suffered his first loss at PNC Arena this season, making 15 saves on the night.
“These are tough ones – we played a pretty good game,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“I think we were the better team from start to finish and their goalie was great. I mean it happens.”
Despite outshooting the Rangers by a 22-6 margin, Carolina trailed 1-0 as the first period drew to a closing following Artemi Panarin’s eighth goal of the season.
Lundqvist’s armor was finally chinked at the 14:32 mark of the second when Hamilton redirected fellow defenseman Jaccob Slavin’s point shot.
However, just over three minutes later New York regained the lead on the power play, the result of Brendan Lemieux’s redirect past Mrazek.
New York pushed its lead to two when Pavel Buchnevich’s individual effort from deep in the Canes zone beat the keeper.
Aho’s sixth goal of the year cut the Canes deficit to one with 4:02 remaining.
Adam Fox’s empty-net goal once again pushed the margin to two goals and remained that way for the final 85 seconds of play.
“A couple of bad bounces, a couple of lapses on our side of things, and that’s the game,” Slavin pointed out.
“They get one little break and it kills the momentum we gained that whole (first) period. We came out strong in the second and kept it to our game. That goal (against) to start the third period – we obviously wanted to come out strong and took it to them right away – it kinda puts a dagger in – you don’t have to get one, you have to get two to just tie it up.”
Hitting a wall
Lundqvist extended his record in the last nine meetings against Carolina to 8-1-0, allowing two goals or less.
Overall, his dominance playing against the Hurricanes stands at a 22-4 record, winning the most games than any other opposing netminder since 2005-2006.
Once again, despite repeated Grade-A scoring opportunities, the only thing standing in Carolina’s way on this night was the future Hall of Famer.
“I thought we came out pretty hard,” forward Warren Foegele stated.
“For the most part we dominated that game, you know. The bounces didn’t go our way, a couple key saves for them. The result wasn’t what we wanted, we worked so hard, had so many Grade-A chances.”
Don’t stop believin’
While “pick up the pieces” has become a common sound bite from Brind’Amour following losses, the Canes bench boss wants to ensure that his players stay focused on their process of how to play to be successful.
He has stated in postgame interviews that he likes the way his team has played despite not getting the bounces in recent games to score more, win games and post more points in the standings.
The Hurricanes currently hold a 9-6-1 record, tied with Pittsburgh for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 19 points.
“You gotta keep believin’ in it,” Brind’Amour said.
“As long as you’re believing in ‘that’s the way we gotta play’, then you’re gonna be fine. What you don’t wanna have is guys start doin’ their own thing and not thinkin’ that ‘that’s the way it’s gonna get it done’. That’s what we have to guard against right now thinkin’ we have to do something different. That’s the way it should look – the results will come if we play like that.”
Notables: Carolina finished 0-2 on the power play, 11-51 (21.6%) overall…On the PK, the Hurricanes went 1-2, 47-59 (79.7%) overall…Hamilton’s goal tied him with Washington Capitals’ John Carlson for the league lead for defensemen…Forward Eetu Luostarinen made his NHL debut, earning his chance following a five-goal, two-assist start in 10 games played with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
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