The New York Rangers can sympathize with the predicament of the Carolina Hurricanes, who will be the last team in the NHL to host their home opener tonight at PNC Arena, as they went through similar ordeals not too long ago during Madison Square Garden’s transformation process.
Hopefully for the Rangers’ fans and their active three-game winning streak, the Rangers won’t show too much sympathy, as they travel to Raleigh to open the 16th year of hockey at the establishment (7:30 PM, MSG).
The Rangers (5-2-0) are seeking their fourth consecutive win, all of which have been in comeback fashion, including a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Brandon Pirri had two goals and Jimmy Vesey, Rick Nash and Kevin Hayes added one each in the victory, which featured the erasing of a 2-0 Boston lead. With their goals, Pirri and Vesey, each of whom scored during power play sessions, now have four goals each on the young season, tied for the team lead.
Forced into an early season road trip, the Hurricanes finally enter their friendly Raleigh confines at 1-3-2, with regulation losses coming in their past two, the most recent coming in 4-2 fashion at Detroit. Carolina was unable to make up a 3-0 first period deficit, despite goals from Jordan Staal and Victor Rask, the latter of whom leads the team with four goals and seven points.
The Rangers-Hurricanes matchup often means the tradition of Staal brothers meeting up in the same arena, as the Rangers’ Marc meets with his younger brother Jordan. However, this will be the first time since 2003 that Eric Staal, now with the Minnesota Wild, will not be involved in a Rangers-Hurricanes match. The eldest Staal, who became the face of the Hurricanes franchise during his 13 years in Carolina, was traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline last year, playing in the teams’ final meeting last season on March 31, a 4-3 Carolina victory in Raleigh. Jeff Skinner tied the game in the third period, while Rask put one in on the power play for the game winner. Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash and Chris Kreider put in the Ranger goals. The loss ended a 9-game winning streak against the Hurricanes for the Rangers. They look the previous three meetings last season against their Metropolitan Division rivals.
The two teams will meet three other times this season, the next coming on November 29 at Madison Square Garden.
Despite the announcement that Josh Jooris (separated shoulder) will be out for the next 3-4 weeks, the Rangers expect Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich to be in the lineup on Friday night. Jesper Fast is expected to sit after not skating yesterday (maintenance).
Stay tuned to blueshirtsnation.com for the postgame analysis afterwards!