A goalie can steal a game for a team and that’s exactly what happened to the Carolina Hurricanes in their 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
Despite facing 47 shots in the span of 60 minutes, New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist stole the game for his team with a multitude of impressive and athletic, but ultimately timely, saves.
“These are tough ones because we played a pretty good game,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “I think we were the better team from start to finish and their goalie was great. That happens. In 82 games, your goalie steals one or two here or there and that’s what happened.”
While one could say that the late period goals that the Rangers capitalized on knocked the wind out of the Hurricanes’ sails, it was honestly only the goaltending that allowed them to win.
“I think that was just coincidence,” said alternate captain Jaccob Slavin on the late goals. “I think it starts from play earlier in that shift which leads to an icing and then a goal. We just have to get those things out of our game. Turning pucks over at the blueline has seemed like the story the past couple of games and that’s where the other teams have been getting their chances and we’ve been giving up goals.”
The Hurricanes assaulted the Rangers through the first period, bombarding them with a barrage of shots helped along by dominant zone time and two power plays. However, Lundqvist, the Hurricanes’ heel who is now 22-4-0 in his last 26 starts against Carolina, turned away every one of the 22 shots that he faced through the first period.
Feeding off of Lundqvist’s energy, New York managed to pull out a dagger goal that brought the building’s decibels to near-zero. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Artemi Panarin got separation and slammed home a centering feed from behind the net to give the Rangers the lead after one.
The Hurricanes broke the metaphorical ice late into the second, just like they drew it up, with defenseman Dougie Hamilton redirecting a Slavin point shot from the slot in past Lundqvist.
However, the Rangers responded right back with another late goal, this one on the power play. Brendan Lemieux tipped the shot directly in front of Carolina netminder Petr Mrazek who had no chance at making the save.
New York extended its lead right off the gun at the start of the third period as Pavel Buchnevich stole the puck and was allowed to skate unimpeded right through the crease and stuff the puck past a sprawling Mrazek.
“You never want to get scored on any time, but to me the early one was the one that frustrates,” Brind’Amour said. “We just took a breath there and they get their chance and it’s in the net.”
The Canes kept trying, pouring the shots and chances onto the Rangers, but it was Lundqvist who held strong.
It was only with under five to go in the third that the Canes managed to close the gap on a lucky bounce. Sebastian Aho attempted to make a centering feed, however the pass was deflected by the stick of New York’s Lias Andersson and right past Lundqvist.
Carolina couldn’t muster another past that though, and the Rangers put in an empty-net goal as time expired to seal the game.
“We came out pretty hard and, for the most part, we dominated that game,” said Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele. “The bounces didn’t go our way and there were a couple of key saves for them. The result isn’t what we wanted, but we played hard tonight and had so many grade-A chances.”
Now the losers of three straight, all to teams in the lower half of the Eastern Conference, the Canes are struggling to find any consistency.
The Hurricanes will head back onto the road north as they take on the Ottawa Senators Saturday, Nov. 9 in the first game of a home-and-home series.