The New York Rangers have beaten the Carolina Hurricanes again and their modus operandi was the same.
The Canes turned the puck over too much. The Rangers capitalized too often. And goalie Henrik Lundqvist again was a difference-maker for New York.
The Rangers rolled past the Canes 4-1 Friday on a wintry night when a lot of Rangers fans made their way into PNC Arena while a lot of Canes fans stayed home. J.T. Miller had a pair of second-period goals, Lundqvist was his usual sharp self with 30 saves and the Rangers now have beaten Carolina in 19 of the past 20 games.
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“I thought we were ready to go,” Canes captain Eric Staal said. “I thought we were competitive off the bat but I just think we shot ourselves in the foot every time on their goals. I mean, we turned them over and they countered and scored. You can’t do that.”
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh had the first Rangers goal after picking off a John-Michael Liles pass at center ice and skating in to rip a shot past goalie Eddie Lack. Defenseman Keith Yandle made it 2-0 on an open shot from the slot after Canes defenseman Noah Hanifin had the puck stolen by Kevin Hayes.
Miller’s first goal came after Derek Stepan’s forechecking resulted in a loose puck in the Canes zone, Miller beating Lack with a shortside shot. Miller then stripped defenseman Jaccob Slavin of the puck between the circles, quickly pivoted and beat Lack with a slick forehand.
For Miller, make it two goals in two minutes, 10 seconds. Just like that it was 4-1.
The Canes’ goal came in the second period when Joakim Nordstrom scored off an Andrej Nestrasil pass — Nordstrom’s third of the season and first in 14 games. But no one else could beat Lundqvist, who made high-danger saves against Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal in the third — Lundqvist thrusting out his paddle to knock away Skinner’s attempt, losing the paddle in the process but getting the save.
The Canes outshot the Rangers 12-1 in the third, but New York (26-16-5) hunkered down in the defensive zone to beat Carolina (21-20-8) for the third time this season and the ninth time in the past 11 games at PNC Arena.
“It’s frustrating,” Staal said. “We know what our record has been against them over the last while and we wanted to turn that around.”
The Canes played Thursday in Toronto, edging the Maple Leafs 1-0 in overtime as Jordan Staal scored the winner and Lack had 32 saves for his first shutout with the Canes. The team then returned to Raleigh, making for a long night, while the Rangers already were in town, resting.
It showed. The Rangers were the quicker, crisper team for longer stretches Friday before a crowd of roughly 5,000 -- there were 14,102 tickets distributed.
“I think we were trying to maybe hold on to the puck a little too much and did not play a more north-south game,” Jordan Staal said.
Canes coach Bill Peters was hoping for better. He wrote “1-18-0 since 2011” on the white board in the Canes’ locker room for motivation and believed this might be the night for his team.
“They capitalized on our mistakes and decision-making,” Peters said. “We didn’t make many plays for 60 minutes.”
Was fatigue a factor?
“I don’t want to use any excuse,” Eric Staal said. “We just made mistakes you can’t make. They made us pay.”
Just as the Rangers have so often the past 20 games.