NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Carolina Hurricanes couldn’t put their losing streak behind them as they finished a weekend back-to-back set of games with a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Defenseman Andrej Sekera scored the lone goal of the night for the Hurricanes while netminder Justin Peters couldn’t get in front of enough pucks including a hat trick from New York’s Derek Stepan and a pair of goals from Carl Hagelin in the losing effort.
Even while skating off the ice trailing 1-0 after the opening period, there was consensus from the Carolina bench that the effort to get on the board early was there, but the finish wasn’t.
It’s a problem that continues to hound this team as it has now lost five games in a row.
“Probably our best first period this year,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said.
“You gotta’ give our guys credit after last night, comin’ in here and bein’ ready to play. I thought our guys came ready to play tonight but little bit of a fragile team givin’ up that first goal – seems to be a pattern. It kind of pushes you back on your heels a little bit after that first goal.”
Hagelin scored the opening goal of the game and provided the Rangers with the jump they needed to build up a 3-0 lead heading into the latter part of the second period.
It wasn’t until 19:23 when Sekera’s point shot got past Rangers keeper Henrik Lundqvist with Jordan Staal blocking his view that the Hurricanes were able to reduce the deficit down to two goals, trailing 3-1 heading into the third period.
“We came out flyin’,” Peters said.
“We came out playin’ the game plan we wanted to play. It seems that when they got that first one, they got a little momentum goin’.”
Even while outshooting the Rangers 14-11 in the final period, Carolina’s shooters couldn’t connect while New York’s did by posting another two goals to finalize the score at 5-1.
“It’s not goin’ in,” Muller said.
“We had enough chances to score – good opportunities. Come out playing well, a lot of good things with parts of the game, especially back-to-back. It’s not easy, but we have to stay with it and keep the guys believin’ that if they do all the right things, the little things, things change around.”
The loss to another Metropolitan division opponent dropped the Hurricanes (4-7-3) into fifth place after they started the week in second.
“We just couldn’t keep it goin’,” Staal said.
“It wasn’t a good enough effort throughout the rest of the game.”