Struggling Rangers have history on their side vs. 'Canes
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Things are looking up for the Carolina Hurricanes after a successful last couple weeks. Things are rapidly deteriorating for the New York Rangers.
Now, a pair of Metropolitan Division foes trending in significantly different directions get together Tuesday night when the Hurricanes visit the Rangers looking to end a 15-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden.
From Nov. 30-Dec. 29, the Hurricanes endured a 3-8-2 stretch that dropped them 10 points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Starting with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 31, Carolina is 7-1-0 in its last eight games and is within striking distance of the second wild-card spot at 22-18-5, good for 49 points.
During their month-long skid, the Hurricanes scored 26 goals and lost five games by two goals or less. In the hot streak, Carolina is outscoring opponents by a 32-22 margin while chasing the starting goaltender in four games and getting several goals on deflections.
"There was a time that we were playing really good hockey, but nothing was going our way," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour told reporters recently. "I give the guys credit, and our leadership group, they're the ones that are continually pushing the message. They're leading by example."
"Finally," Carolina right winger Teuvo Teravainen added. "We're doing a lot of things right and maybe that's why we're getting these bounces."
Carolina's latest win was Sunday's 6-3 victory over Nashville, highlighted by Sebastian Aho's hat trick with a goal in each period. Aho leads the Hurricanes in goals (21) and assists (30), has 15 goals in his last 18 contests, and is the sixth Finnish-born player to score at least 20 goals in each of his first three seasons.
Justin Williams also scored a power-play goal Sunday -- his fifth straight game with a goal.
The Rangers, on the other hand, are on a 1-6-0 slide since winning one-goal games in Nashville and St. Louis on Dec. 29 and 31. They are being outscored 34-15 and have held a lead for just 7:32 total during the streak.
New York stopped a five-game losing streak with Saturday afternoon's 2-1 win in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders but followed it up with a 7-5 loss at Columbus on Sunday. That result infuriated first-year coach David Quinn, who watched his team lose 47 of 68 faceoffs and be outshot 40-27.
"You're going to lose hockey games. But you better want to battle somebody. It's just ridiculous," Quinn told reporters. "Three games where we feel good about our effort and our compete (level), and then we come out here and do that? It's a freaking joke."
While the Rangers scored five goals for the first time since Dec. 8, they gave up seven or more for the fourth time this season. Three of the goals the Rangers surrendered on Sunday came less than two minutes after New York had scored.
"We're going to watch this and we're going to learn from this," Quinn said. "We have zero chance if we've got 20 guys in uniform not wanting to compete for pucks and get into people and have a little bit of snarl to your game."
Chris Kreider scored one of New York's goals after going a season-high seven games without a tally and Mats Zuccarello scored twice after getting the game-winner Saturday. Those performances were negated by Mika Zibanejad losing 15 of 24 faceoffs and Boo Nieves losing 14 of 16 draws.
Sunday's loss is part of a rapid decline that actually began Nov. 23. From Oct. 23-Nov. 21, the Rangers enjoyed a 10-3-1 surge. But starting with a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia, they are 6-12-5 and 1-3-5 at home. New York sits at 18-20-7, giving them 43 points.
Alexandar Georgiev played the last two games but Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal Tuesday after getting a breather by backing up in four of the last six contests.
Rangers center Kevin Hayes missed his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury and he could be out again Tuesday.
Carolina torched the Rangers in the first meeting when 13 players registered a point in its 8-5 home win on Oct. 7. The Hurricanes are seeking their first win against the Rangers in New York since Oct. 29, 2010.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 14, 2019