Rick Nash's season-long goal-scoring streak was snapped Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, but he still found a way to be a difference-maker, scoring the only goal in the shootout as the Rangers rallied to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1.
Nash beat Carolina's Anton Khudobin in the third round with a gorgeous deke and forehand finish; and Henrik Lundqvist denied Ryan Murphy on the final shot of the shootout as the Rangers snapped a three-game losing streak and earned their first home-ice victory of the season.
Trailing 1-0, and with the clock winding down in the third period, the Rangers pulled even on Derick Brassard's third goal of the season--and third in as many games--at 9:40. Mats Zuccarello worked the puck to the right point where Dan Girardi sent a wrist shot towards the net. The puck was deflected first by Zuccarello and then by Brassard before nestling into the cage behind Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin.
Several minutes before Brassard's goal, Nash provided New York with its two best scoring-chances of the night, playing as a man possessed during a four-on-four sequence with two in-tight chances after an initial power move to the net.
Nash very nearly had a hand in ending this game before it went to overtime, too, when he made a slick feed into the low slot to Zuccarello in the waning seconds, but Zuccarello couldn't quite tee up his shot.
There had been nearly 37 minutes of scoreless hockey before Carolina's Chris Terry fired a long shot past a screened Henrik Lundqvist at the 16:53 mark of the second period to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead. Lundqvist never flinched as Terry's third goal of the season beat him short side from above the left circle.
Prior to allowing that goal the Rangers had the better of the play in the middle period after an uninspired firs period. New York outshot Carolina 12-5 in the second with Matt Hunwick, Dominic Moore, and Brassard having the best of the Rangers' scoring opportunities; but Khudobin was solid between the pipes and his defenders did a good at not allowing the Rangers many--if any--Grade A chances.
In the first period New York started strong--holding a 7-2 shots advantage at one point--before Carolina held the Rangers without a shot for a nine-minute stretch, at which time the Hurricanes themselves recorded ten straight shots on Lundqvist.
The dismal finish to the opening period prompted Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault to juggle his line combinations in the second. Rookie Anthony Duclair was removed from the top line and put on the fourth line with Dom Moore and Tanner Glass, and promptly drew a pair of power plays in the second for the Blueshirts. Ryan Malone moved up from the fourth line on to a unit with Brassard and Zuccarello, who were reunited after starting the game on separate lines. Chris Kreider took Duclair's spot alongside Nash and Martin St. Louis.
In the third period more changes were made. Rookie Kevin Hayes assumed the spot in Kreider's place on the top line, and Dom Moore moved up to play with Carl Hagelin and Lee Stempniak, and then with Kreider and Duclair.
As New York's power play fizzled time and again--0-for-5 on the night--Vigneault changed his personnel there, as well. Among the bigger moves, Kreider joined the top unit up front with Nash and St. Louis, and defenseman John Moore was inserted on to the second unit to play the point along with Dan Girardi.
The Rangers are now without a power play goal--in 16 opportunities--over the first five games of the season.