For the second time in the past week, the Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes with a strong third period at Madison Square Garden.
“We found a way in the third period,” Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday after Chris Kreider scored two goals, 4 minutes 46 seconds apart, late in the third to lift the Rangers to a 4-2 victory. “When the game was on the line, to play our best hockey to get 2 points, we’ll take it and get ready for the next game.”
On Tuesday night, the Rangers trailed, 2-0, before pulling to within 1 in the second and scoring twice in the third to beat Carolina, 3-2.
The Rangers, at 17-8-1 the Metropolitan Division leaders, also received a goal and two assists from Derek Stepan, a goal by Michael Grabner and two assists from Mats Zuccarello. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots to bounce back from a shaky outing at Buffalo two nights earlier and pick up his 11th win of the season.
The Rangers are 8-0-1 after losses this season and have not lost consecutive games in regulation. The Rangers’ 13-game home winning streak against Carolina is their longest home streak against any opponent in franchise history.
Kreider scored the tiebreaking goal by knocking a rebound past Hurricanes goaltender Michael Leighton with 7:35 left.
Kreider made it a two-goal game with 2:49 remaining when his shot rang off a post and deflected in off Leighton.
“There was a big difference in our game — more energy, more speed to our game,” Lundqvist said of the Rangers’ play in the final period as opposed to the first two. “It felt like they wanted it a little bit more for two periods, but I think in this league, a lot of times, games are decided in the third. Teams try to stay close, and then in the third, you try to make that final push to make the difference.”
Viktor Stalberg and Victor Rask scored for Carolina, and Leighton finished with 24 saves in his second start of the season. The Hurricanes concluded a three-game road trip and fell to 1-4-1 in their last six games.
Carolina (9-10-5) had a strong first period, outshooting the Rangers by 15-3, but Stepan’s goal at 4:05 in the first gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Kevin Klein joined the rush and crashed the net, which allowed Stepan to control his own rebound and open the scoring. The referee initially waved off the goal, but it was allowed after a review.
Stalberg, who scored twice in the Hurricanes’ loss Tuesday night at the Garden, tied the score by beating Lundqvist with a wrist shot on the glove side. Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers’ captain, tried to skate the puck out of trouble but turned it over in the neutral zone, leading to Carolina’s odd-man rush.
Speaking of Stalberg, Hurricanes Coach Bill Peters said: “He fits the modern game, a big guy that can skate well. That’s what he does.”
Grabner picked up his 13th goal of the season and put the Rangers ahead, 2-1, at 5:54 of the third.
Rask tied the score just 32 seconds later with his ninth goal of the season — and his 99th career N.H.L. point — when his slap shot from the point beat Lundqvist.
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