Analysis from New York
→ The Carolina Hurricanes saw a two-goal lead evaporate, as the New York Rangers scored three unanswered goals to top the Canes, 3-2, in the first meeting between these two teams this week.
"For two periods, we were by far the better team," said Viktor Stalberg, who scored the Canes' two goals. "We were really putting pressure on them every single shift. A frustrating ending here. We've got to be a little bit smarter and find a way to be stronger in the third period."
"I thought we skated real good early. I thought we skated and made plays," head coach Bill Peters said. "We stood around a little bit more as the game went along, we didn't make many plays, we weren't as dangerous and we spent too much time defending."
Video: CAR Recap: Stalberg's two goals not enough in loss
→ Going down the stretch in the third period, Hurricanes defenseman Ron Hainsey was whistled for what the officials determined a hook, a call that both live and on replay looked to not be a penalty, and if anything an embellishment on the opponent's part. Simply put, it was an egregiously bad call, and Hainsey vehemently disagreed with it, which earned him an extra two minutes in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I did not, no," Hainsey said when asked if he got an explanation. "The player fell down. That's all that happened. The player fell. I'm right, he's wrong. That's it."
"No. I didn't ask for one either," Peters said when asked about an explanation.
On the ensuing power play, the Rangers capitalized, as Jimmy Vesey jumped on a rebound from a Rick Nash shot to put New York on top, 3-2.
"You're going to get calls, and you're going to get them against you. It is what it is," Stalberg said. "We're not happy about it, but we should find a way to kill it off."
"It's a 2-2 game with six minutes left, and then we had someone decide to get involved," Hainsey said.
→ As the Hurricanes did to the Panthers on Sunday, the Rangers did to the Hurricanes tonight, erasing an early two-goal deficit.
Stalberg, who the Canes signed as a free agent this summer, teed off against his former team in the first period, scoring twice in what was some of the best 20 minutes that the Hurricanes have played at Madison Square Garden in recent memory.
"We did a lot of good things early and didn't give up much," Peters said.
The Hurricanes grabbed a 1-0 lead when Matt Tennyson's shot was blocked by the skate of Nick Holden in the slot, the puck then bouncing right onto Stalberg's stick. Stalberg's shot then bounced off Holden's stick as he crouched to block it, the puck squirting through Henrik Lundqvist.
Seven minutes later, Stalberg collected the rebound off a shot from Jay McClement, who tallied his first assist and point of the season, to make it a 2-0 game.
"It's always fun playing here. I think no matter if you played here or not, it's always special for guys coming to the Garden," Stalberg said. "It's a tough one to swallow not getting any points."
→ After Nick Holden scored to halve the Canes' lead, how the team responded was paramount. We've seen before how quickly things can snowball in this building, and to their credit, the Hurricanes responded very well and generated a number of scoring opportunities to again stretch their lead to two goals.
"We were playing really good, even with the goal they had," Hainsey said. "We were controlling the play, controlling the shots and doing what we wanted to do."
Early in the third period, though, the Rangers equaled the score. Rick Nash picked the puck up off a turnover at the blue line of the Canes' offensive zone and raced down the ice. Being pressured by Justin Faulk, Nash tucked the puck in the top corner with a backhander.
And after that game-tying goal, it was all Rangers. The Hurricanes struggled to move the puck up ice, let alone generate anything offensively, while New York pressed to take the lead.
"Some big breakdowns hurt us," Peters said. "I didn't think we were dangerous in the third period. I didn't think we generated much. We got on our heels a little bit. They scored on the first shift of the period, and we were on our heels. We weren't dangerous."
→ At one point in the first period, the puck was rifled into the Canes' bench. Michael Leighton snared it with his glove, picking up right where he left off on Sunday.
→ The Hurricanes have gone winless in 12 straight games (0-8-4) at Madison Square Garden, dating back to Jan. 5, 2011. Their last win in the Big Apple came in October of 2010.
→ The Hurricanes' road swing now shifts to Boston, where they will face off with the Bruins on Thursday before returning to the Big Apple for a matinee rematch against the Rangers on Saturday.
"Just keep playing the same way, really," Hainsey said. "When you come in and play this team that's been firing on all cylinders, to have them where we had them minus our best two-way player, bar-none, you just keep playing the way you're playing and good things should happen out there."
"We've got to continue to learn as we go. Obviously this is one that I don't think too many guys will be happy the way it unfolded over 60 minutes," Peters said. "I thought we were in good shape at the beginning of the game, played real well and did a lot of good things. We just needed to continue that and sustain quality play for 60 minutes."
"We're excited about the opportunity," Stalberg said. "We've got to go there, find a way to get two points and then come back here and get them back."