Rangers win goaltenders’ duel over Hurricanes

Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov blocks a shot by Rangers center Vincent Trocheck during New York’s 1-0 win Tuesday over Carolina in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Rangers extended their Metropolitan Division lead to six points, beating the Hurricanes 1-0 Tuesday in a playoff-style matchup at PNC Arena.

Adam Fox had the game’s only goal, while Igor Shesterkin and Pyotr Kochetkov both starred for their teams.

Three observations

1. It was mostly a defensive slog for the first two periods of the matchup of the Metropolitan Division’s two teams, with the lone goal — credited to Fox — coming off the skate of Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei.

Both Shesterkin (28 saves) and Kochetkov (23 saves) were excellent. Shesterkin had a pair of saves in front on new Carolina center Evgeny Kuznetsov that can best be described as robbery, and Kochetkov’s save early in the game on Vincent Trocheck on the Rangers’ first power play may not show up in highlight reels but was spectacular nonetheless.

Things opened up in the third, and the goaltending was perhaps even better.

The best was Kochetkov’s save on a Rangers’ 2-on-0, and it should be in immediate consideration for save of the year.

“Kooch played really well,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Their goalie made a couple nice saves too. But we didn’t generate probably enough to really put the heat on him.”

On a night when Shesterkin is likely to get all the accolades — and he deserves them too — one could argue Kochetkov outplayed him despite giving up the only goal.

2. It was a mostly quiet first game with Carolina for Jake Guentzel, who had a chance in the slot on the power play in the game’s first few minutes but saw it blocked. He played on a line with Kuznetsov and Martin Necas while also getting time on the Hurricanes’ second power play unit for the team’s one man advantage.

“It’s gonna take some time for everybody to kind of get up to speed with what we’re doing,” Brind’Amour said of the line featuring two newcomers. “Overall, those guys might have been the best line for us.”

Guentzel finished with one shot on goal, three 5-on-5 shot attempts and four scoring chances in all situations.

“I just felt all right,” Guentzel said of his Hurricanes debut and first game since being hurt Feb. 14. “It’s a fast game, this team plays fast. You’ve got to make sure you’re at your top speed at all times.”

3. The Rangers did a good job limiting Carolina’s ability to get the puck back to its defensemen in the offensive zone, particularly in the first period when the home team’s defense managed just one shot on goal. The Hurricanes seemed out of rhythm for much of the night, though Brind’Amour did adjust his team’s strategy to try and take what New York was giving.

“They play higher then cut the tops off,” he said. “So we knew that. We had, in the second, three Grade-A’s in the slot, so we were trying to look for that play. We just didn’t hit. We had a couple — Kuzy had two right in the slot. So that’s the game, the little adjustments you make.”

Number to know

6.97 — Combined expected goals in all situations, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, for the Hurricanes and Rangers, who managed to score just once. New York was credited with 3.75 expected goals, while Carolina had 3.22. Andrei Svechnikov led the Hurricanes with 0.62 expected goals, and the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad had 0.46.


Evgeny Kuznetsov, Hurricanes center — On a line with Necas and Guentzel, Kuznetsov had two Grade-A chances that only stayed out of the net because of Shesterkin.

It’s been an encouraging start with the Hurricanes for Kuznetsov, who sees his opportunity with Carolina as perhaps his last chance to be an impact player in the NHL. The goals, assists and points will come if he continues to play like this, and if he does, Carolina will have a tough-to-beat top two lines.


Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes forward — While Svechnikov led the team in shots on goal (four) and 5-on-5 shot attempts (seven), his retaliatory penalty on New York defenseman Erik Gustafsson in the first period is a moment when he needs to control his emotions.

After Gustafsson took a run at Svechnikov — leading to the former hitting the ice — the Carolina winger sought him out and was called for an interference penalty.

“He can’t do that,” Brind’Amour said. “He’s competitor, but he’s gotta be able to control it. We know that, we’ve talked about it quite a while. He’s got to dial it in.”

Svechnikov did have one of the game’s best scoring chances, hitting the left post with just under 16 minutes left in the game. The 1-0 loss ended his four-game point streak during which he had three goals and five assists.

They said it

“You’ve got to score to win. Zero is never going to get you a win.”

— Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal