After failing to secure a playoff berth in their last
opportunity, the New York Rangers don’t want to waste another
chance against one of the league’s worst teams – and one they’ve
New York will try again to clinch a third straight postseason
appearance Thursday night in Raleigh by claiming its eighth
consecutive victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Rangers (24-18-4) are focused on taking care of business
with a win, though they can also wrap up an Eastern Conference
playoff spot if ninth-place Winnipeg loses in regulation to
Montreal on Thursday. Additionally, New York would qualify for the
postseason if both teams earn a point.
“We don’t want to back in,” said center Brad Richards, who has
four goals and four assists over the last four games. “We’ll get
back to work and still control our fate if we win. That’s all we
can ask for.”
Following a Jets’ regulation loss Tuesday, New York missed a
prime opportunity to punch its playoff ticket as league-worst
Florida rallied for two third-period goals in a 3-2 victory that
snapped the Rangers’ three-game winning streak.
Carolina (19-24-3) isn’t far ahead of the Panthers, tied for the
league’s fourth-fewest points, and has lost seven in a row to New
York while getting held to 13 goals. Henrik Lundqvist won four of
those games, posting a 1.44 goals-against average and keeping the
Hurricanes without a goal in two shootouts.
Lundqvist was in net for both meetings this season, including 48
saves a 4-1 victory April 6 in the last matchup as the Rangers won
in Raleigh for the sixth time in seven tries.
Ryan Callahan will try to extend a seven-game point streak in
this series that’s included six goals and three assists. He’s also
recorded three goals and four assists over a five-game point streak
Carolina is on a small run of its own, having recorded
back-to-back wins for the first time since March 9-12.
Alexander Semin scored for the third time in four games as the
Hurricanes claimed a 4-3 shootout victory over the New York
Islanders on Tuesday.
While Semin has six points during a four-game streak, Jiri
Tlusty has a six-game run during which he has four goals and four
“We’re starting to find our identity, and that’s important going
into next year,” said Dan Ellis, who had 36 saves Tuesday for his
second straight win after losing seven in a row.
Although he’s 3-1-1 with a 2.07 GAA in his last five games
against the Rangers, Ellis lost both starts this season and was
pulled in the last meeting after allowing three goals over the
first two periods.
Derek Stepan scored against Ellis in both matchups and has six
goals with nine assists in 12 games this month, tying Rick Nash for
the team lead with 40 points.
Eric Staal tops the Hurricanes with 50, and he’s expected to
team up with two brothers for the first time Thursday. Jordan Staal
is in his first season with Carolina, and the team called up
22-year-old Jared Staal from Charlotte of the AHL on Wednesday.
Jared, the youngest of the three, has never appeared in the NHL.
The Staals will become the 10th trio of brothers in North America’s
four major professional sports leagues – and the fourth in the NHL
– to play for the same team in the same season.
“The more, the merrier,” Eric, the team captain, said after
Another Staal brother, Marc, plays for the Rangers but hasn’t
taken the ice since getting injured March 5.