Hurricanes beat Rangers 4-3 to claim Metropolitan Division title

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates after scoring against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov (52) in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Tuesday April 26, 2022, in New York.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) celebrates after scoring against Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov (52) in the second period of an NHL hockey game on Tuesday April 26, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

PA

Vincent Trochek had a goal and an assist, rookie Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 31 shots and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on Tuesday night to win their fifth straight and clinch the Metropolitan Division title .

Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Martinook also scored for Carolina, and Brady Skjei had two assists. The Hurricanes, who captured their second straight division title after winning the realigned Central Division in last year’s shortened season, set franchise records with 53 wins and 114 points, surpassing records set in 2005- 06.

“I think you probably need to take a minute and realize this is a really good year, we did what we set out to do,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “What’s great is that the guys aren’t really excited about it. They know there are bigger things we’re trying to accomplish.”

It was the game of the best two teams at the Metropolitan with first place within reach for Rangers. Instead, the Hurricanes beat them for the third time in four meetings this season – including twice at Madison Square Garden in 15 days – to take the division.

“I look forward to these kinds of matches,” Skjei said. “It was a huge victory for us. We are very happy to have won the division.

Kochetkov, making his second career start and third straight appearance, made 11 saves in the first period, 11 in the second and nine in the third to improve to 3-0-0.

“It’s a great story, I hope it continues,” Brind’Amour said of the 22-year-old keeper. “Nothing bothers him. He looks like he belongs.

Chris Kreider scored his 52nd goal for Rangers, who have lost two in a row and three in seven and are guaranteed to finish second to the Metropolitan. Jacob Trouba and Alexis Lafrenière also scored and Igor Shesterkin finished with 31 saves.

“Sometimes I didn’t like our game, but overall we fought back,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We know where we are going to end up. … First, second, wherever you end up, you’re going to face a great team (in the playoffs).

Aho pounced on a loose puck and fired a shot past Shesterkin for his team-leading 37th of the season 32 seconds into the third to push Carolina up to 4-1.

Trouba brought Rangers within two as he scored a good run for his 11th career high with 6:48 left.

With Shesterkin fired for an extra skater, Lafrenière scored on a one-timer from the right side with 1:02 remaining to bring the Rangers within one. It was his 18th.

After a scoreless first period, the Hurricanes took control with three goals in the second.

Rangers had three power plays in 7:09 from the end of the first period to the start of the second. They had four shots on the pros but couldn’t break through against the league’s best shorthanded unit.

“That’s the game over there,” Brind’Amour said. “They get one there, everything changes. The public gets involved, we are behind the 8 ball, the game is totally different. It was a crucial part of the game.”

Trochek then gave the Hurricanes the lead by beating Shesterkin with a slapshot from the left circle on a pass from Skjei – one of the six former Rangers in the Carolina roster – at 7:05 of the middle period. It was his 21st of the season.

Martinook made it 2-0 with 6:12 left in the second as he deflected a shot from Derek Stepan, another former Ranger, from the right circle past Shesterkin. It was Martinook’s fifth.

“It put me in the big bicep,” Martinook said of his deviation.

Kreider brought Rangers back in under one by backhanding Kochetkov with 3:02 to go. He tied Adam Graves (1993-94) for the second-most single-season goals in franchise history, just two behind the record set by Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06.

“It’s a tough thing to think about after this game…after a loss like that,” Kreider said.

Teravainen restored Carolina’s double goal as he skated in the left circle and beat Shesterkin for 21st with 1:41 left in the period.

The Hurricanes outshot Rangers 14-11 in the first period as both goalies made several great saves.

MCDONALD WINNER

Kreider was announced as the Rangers’ winner of the 2022 Steven McDonald “Extra Effort” Award. The award, named after the former NYPD detective who was shot on the job in 1986, is given annually to a Rangers player selected during of fan voting that “goes beyond the call of duty”. McDonald’s widow Patti and her son Connor, an NYPD sergeant, were on hand to present the award.

MILESTONES

Kreider’s goal was the 229th of his career, breaking a tie with Bill Cook for 10th in franchise history. … Aho’s goal gave him 400 career points. … Teravainen scored his 100th goal with the Hurricanes. … Carolina F Max Domi played his 500th career game.

IN HANDRAIL

Rangers lost two men in the third period after it was announced that forward Artemi Panarin (upper body injury) and Andrew Copp (lower body injury) would not return to the game.

“(They) should be fine,” Gallant said. “Just be careful.”

NEXT

Hurricanes: Host New Jersey on Thursday night to close out the regular season.

Rangers: Host Montreal on Wednesday night before wrapping up the regular season against Washington on Friday.

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