RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes took more than 46 minutes to score on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist back on Feb. 8.
They scored sooner Tuesday night — just before the game’s midway point — but could only manage one goal on the future Hall of Famer in New York’s 2-1 win in front of 13,343 at PNC Arena.
“He was good,” Brind’Amour said of Lundqvist, who had 43 saves. “Our guy was good. Both goalies went at it, and he made a few more saves, especially at the end.”
Knotted up at 1-1 early in the third period, the Hurricanes had a chance to take the lead on the power play. But a Justin Faulk shot rang the post, and center Lucas Wallmark took an offensive zone penalty just after the New York penalty expired.
Then on the 5-on-4 penalty kill, Brock McGinn was called for a trip, setting up the Rangers with 42 seconds of a two-man advantage. The Hurricanes easily fended off the 5-on-3, then held firm for the rest of the second infraction.
But right as McGinn’s penalty expired, Vladislav Namestnikov banged in the puck from the slot for even-strength goal — in name only — at 6:10 of the third.
“It’s tough when you’re in a 1-1 game,” Hurricanes goalie Curtis McElhinney (24 saves) said. “You don’t want to get into any penalty trouble any time, so it was unfortunate that it maybe took a little bit of momentum. But I thought we had some looks that were more than capable of going into the net, and we didn’t get the bounces tonight.”
The other two goals happened in less than a minute at the middle point of the game.
First, Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov hooked up for a nifty give-and-go in the New York zone, and Hamilton took a shot that was redirected on net by Jordan Martinook, who then got his own rebound and scored his 13th of the season to make it 1-0 at 9:53 of the second period.
The Rangers answered less than a minute later when Connor Brickley — who has bounced around the league since Carolina lost him the expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights two summers ago — crashed the net after a Filip Chytil shot and bodied the puck past McElhinney to tie the game at 10:40 of the middle frame.
The goal was initially waved off by referee Wes McCauley, but after review it was deemed a good play because the puck went in off Brickley’s body and not his glove.
The Hurricanes took control while trying to tie the game late, peppering Lundqvist with shots. But the Swedish goalie wouldn’t be beaten again, even with McElhinney pulled for more than two minutes at the end of the game to try and get the equalizer.
“Honestly, I think that’s the way the rest of this season’s going to be,” McElhinney said of the low-scoring game. “It’s going to be tight hockey, and it’s going to come down to some bounces. I think we had good looks tonight, so there’s nothing to hang your head about. It’s a tough loss, but move on.”
The loss squandered a chance for the Hurricanes to regain a playoff spot. Montreal defeated Columbus while Pittsburgh topped New Jersey to give the Canadiens and Penguins a three-point cushion for two of the final three spots in the Eastern Conference race. Both winning teams jumped over the Blue Jackets, who with 69 points are one ahead of Carolina for the second wild-card spot with a game in hand.
“That was our best game we probably played in probably seven or eight, and it just didn’t work out,” Brind’Amour said. “So we come with that mindset and play that hard, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Notes: Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon was at PNC Arena for the game and spoke to the media, along with Alliance of American Football founder Charlie Ebersol, about Dundon’s $250 million investment in the AAF. Dundon, with his investment, is now the chairman of the new eight-team football league. … Captain Justin Williams was credited with 10 shots on goal, the most by a Hurricanes player in a game this season. The team has six instances of eight shots on goal this season: Nino Niederreiter (2), Williams, Svechnikov, Wallmark and Faulk. … Sebastian Aho played 26:25 in the game, the most of any Hurricanes forward in a game this season. The previous high was Aho’s 24:40 on Feb. 10 in New Jersey.