Hurricanes rookie Seth Jarvis couldn’t help but be a little wide-eyed before his first game at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s an iconic stadium,” said Jarvis, who was also visiting New York City for the first time. “I’ve watched tons of basketball and hockey here. So to be in here, especially at morning skate, I was kind of looking up at the rafters the whole time, checking everything out.”
But once the puck dropped, Jarvis didn’t have any trouble playing his first game in the Big Apple.
Jarvis took a pass from Sebastian Aho and went from forehand to backhand, lifting the puck over Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin to give the Hurricanes their first lead 62 seconds into the third period in a 4-2 win in Manhattan.
“He doesn’t look like a young kid,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “He certainly plays above that.”
Carolina captain Jordan Staal added an insurance goal — his sixth in four games — and Aho completed a three-point night with an empty-net goal as the Hurricanes denied the Rangers a chance to tie them in the Metropolitan Division standings and built a four-point gap with eight games to play in the regular season.
“Everyone knew how big of a game it was coming in,” said Jarvis, who now has 14 goals on the season. “So just to get that extra cushion, it means a lot for us.”
The Rangers looked poised to continue their climb up the standings by dominating the first 20 minutes. New York outshot Carolina 14-8 in the first 20 minutes, assisted by several defensive zone turnovers by the Hurricanes.
“We were really poor to start the game,” Brind’Amour said. “Just turn the puck over in our own end 12 times — like, on our sticks. So that just sets up their game.”
Carolina, as it has much of the season, leaned on its goaltending and penalty kill. The Rangers had two power plays in the first period but couldn’t solve Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen (28 saves).
“I never get to choose when to get shots against, I’ve just got to be ready for it from the drop of the puck,” Andersen said. “They obviously had a good period. I think they capitalized on some turnovers and were able to sustain a little bit of pressure.”
Andersen’s steady play allowed Carolina, as it has all season, to stay calm despite the one-sidedness of the first period.
“Just knowing you have an extra layer defense down there and you don’t have to worry about him makes everyone play a little more freely and more confidently,” Jarvis said.
And the team’s top-ranked penalty kill went 4 for 4 to allow no goals for the 52nd time in 74 games.
“That’s the game,” Brind’Amour said of shutting down New York’s second-ranked power play. “That’s the game in a nutshell … because every time they get one you’re worried because they are so lethal.”
New York did turn a Carolina mistake into a goal early in the second period.
The Rangers got on the board first when defenseman K’Andre Miller poked the puck away from Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov on the rush and then jumped in the play in the Carolina zone, scoring on a rebound for a 1-0 lead at 1:03 of the second period.
Svechnikov rectified his mistake by getting his 29th goal of the season later in the period.
Svechnikov led another rush up ice, retrieved the puck below the goal line and banked a shot in off the skate of Shesterkin (21 saves) at 13:38 of the middle frame.
That set up a winner-take-all third period, and the Hurricanes finally asserted themselves.
After Jarvis gave Carolina the lead, Brady Skjei — playing his first game at MSG since he was traded to the Hurricanes in February 2020 — wound up for a slap shot that was blocked.
Staal located the loose puck between the circles and whipped a shot through two New York defenders and past a Nino Niederreiter screen for his 14th goal of the season and 12th since ending a 35-game goal drought on Feb. 10.
The Rangers’ Chris Kreider made things interesting when he scored his 50th goal of the season with Shesterkin on the bench with 1:38 remaining, but Svechnikov set up Aho for his empty-net goal with six seconds left to seal Carolina’s win.
“It wasn’t a start we wanted, but I thought we played great in the third period and came back and got a good win,” Skjei said.
Notes: Aho and Teuvo Teravainen both got their 40th assists of the season. … Skjei, Tony DeAngelo, Jesper Fast and Brendan Smith all played their first games at MSG since leaving the Rangers. … Kreider became the first Ranger to score 50 goals in a season since Jaromir Jagr had 54 in 2005-06 and the fourth ever, joining Adam Graves (52 in 1993-94) and Vic Hadfield (50 in 1971-72). … Ian Cole finished with a season-high five blocked shots. Only Jaccob Slavin (six on Nov. 3) has had more blocked shots in a game for Carolina this season.