The New York Rangers saw their eight-game home winning streak come to a halt in their last outing, but coach Alain Vigneault’s team has an even longer run under the belts heading into Friday’s tilt versus the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers have won a staggering 13 straight versus the Hurricanes, including a 6-1 drubbing of coach Bill Peters’ club on Nov. 22.
Mika Zibanejad collected a goal and an assist in that contest, but New York’s leader in goals (11) and points (22) was a late scratch for Tuesday’s game against Florida before Vigneault told reporters two days later that the 24-year-old Swede is out indefinitely with a concussion. David Desharnais fared well in his stead, notching three assists on a line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich in the Rangers’ 5-4 loss to the Panthers. The Hurricanes also fell on Tuesday, dropping their third contest in four outings with a 3-2 shootout at Columbus. Sebastian Aho, who was held off the scoresheet in that game as well as the two that preceded it, capped a five-game goal-scoring spree with Carolina’s lone tally versus the New York.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Carolinas, MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE HURRICANES (10-8-5): Scott Darling was gashed for all six goals in the first encounter versus New York - including Zibanejad’s soft wrist shot from center ice that the 28-year-old netminder joked that he “lost it in the lights.” The 28-year-old has rebounded in a big way, turning aside eight of nine shots in relief on Friday versus Toronto before stopping 68 of 73 shots in back-to-back shootouts versus Nashville and Columbus. Jeff Skinner leads the team with nine goals, but only two were scored in November.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (13-10-2): Kreider collected two goals and an assist versus the Panthers to increase his point total to eight (five goals, three assists) in his last seven games. Included in that stretch is a two-goal performance versus Carolina in the first encounter, giving the 26-year-old multi-point performances in each of the last three meetings with the Hurricanes. Impressive numbers to be certain, but Henrik Lundqvist may have him beat as the 2012 Vezina Trophy winner owns a scintillating 17-3-0 mark with a 1.77 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in his last 20 appearances against the Hurricanes.
1. New York F Mats Zuccarello, who leads the team with 16 assists, has scored one goal and set up five others during his five-game point streak.
2. Carolina C Jordan Staal has one point in his last six games after erupting for six assists in his previous two.
3. The Rangers’ winning streak versus the Hurricanes is their longest against one opponent in franchise history.
PREDICTION: Rangers 4, Hurricanes 2