Rangers send Canes to fifth straight loss, 5-1

calexander@newsobserver.comNovember 2, 2013 

— One of the big story lines before the game was the Staal brothers reunion.

For the first time in their NHL careers, Eric and Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes were facing brother Marc Staal, a defenseman for the New York Rangers. It was a game they anticipated playing last season, but an eye injury to Marc Staal prevented it.

Once the game started Saturday, a bigger storyline became Derek Stepan notching a hat trick and Carl Hagelin scoring twice, Henrik Lundqvist being strong in net and the Rangers winning 5-1 at Madison Square Garden.

Hagelin scored on a backhand beauty in the first period for a 1-0 lead, lifting the Rangers (6-7-0) out of some early lethargy. In the second, the speedy forward bounced out of the penalty box and zipped in to score again.

Justin Peters, again starting in net for the Canes, didn't react well on either shot. It did later in the game but the Canes again were playing from behind and on their way to a fifth straight loss.

Defenseman Andrej Sekera gave the Hurricanes (4-7-3) some hope with a power-play score with 36 seconds left in the second period. Sekera scored on a shot from the left point that appeared to glance off the Rangers' Anton Stralman.

It was the Canes' first goal since Nathan Gerbe's power-play score late in the first period against Pittsburgh on Monday. Carolina was shut out 3-0 Friday by Tampa Bay and Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.

Lundqvist, who shut out the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 in the Rangers' last game, made several high-quality save sin the third. His glove save on a Ryan Murphy snapshot had Rangers fans howling.

Hagelin's second goal came after he was called for a hooking penalty in the second. Coming out of the penalty box, Hagelin was all alone.

Derek Stepan also had a power-play score for the Rangers in the second for a 3-0 lead. That came after the Canes killed off a Ryan Murphy clipping penalty -- Murphy upending Derek Dorsett on an open-ice hit that upset the Rangers and their fans -- only to have Manny Malhotra called for goaltender interference.

When the Canes failed to clear the puck out of a scrum, Stepan scored his first of the season. The Rangers, averaging 1.7 goals a game, had a third.

The three Staals weren't on the ice to begin the game. But with Canes coach Kirk Muller making a line change and putting Eric at left wing and Jordan at center with Alexander Semin on the right side, Marc Staal soon was poke-checking and battling both.

"I'm just happy Marc's back and playing," Eric Staal said before the game. "He had good summer of training. He's getting back to the level he was at before. It's going to take a little time, but just the fact he's back out there and playing and being able to compete is exciting.

"It's a challenge every time you face him. He's a big, strong guy that you have to compete with. It's fun knowing it's your brother but you have to make sure you're ready to play."

Marc Staal told New York reporters he was accustomed to facing one brother, but not two in the same game. He played against Jordan 26 times when Jordan was with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and battled Eric 18 times.

In April, the Canes called up the youngest Staal brother, Jared, from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL before the Rangers game at PNC Arena. Eric, Jordan and Jared started on the same line but Marc was watching from the press level, sidelined with the eye injury.

"It would have been pretty special if we all four had played that night," Eric said. "But the fact we three played on the same line was pretty cool. You couldn't write that up any better."

The Canes made one lineup change fore Saturday's game, activating defenseman Brett Bellemore off injured reserve and inserting him for Tim Gleason. Muller said Gleason has an upper-body injury and his status is "day to day."

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