When the Carolina Hurricanes took their last regulation loss on Nov. 23, they faced an early eight-point deficit in the Metropolitan Division. Since then they are virtually unbeaten and hold a fairly comfortable lead atop the competitive division.
The Hurricanes seek a franchise-record 12th straight victory and can give coach Rod Brind’Amour his 200th career victory Tuesday night when they visit the New York Rangers in the first meeting between the teams since last spring’s second-round playoff series.
The Hurricanes are two away from matching the New Jersey Devils for the NHL’s longest winning streak this season. Carolina also is 15-0-2 since its 4-0 home loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 23 gave them a 10-6-4 record and put them in third place with 24 points, tied with the Rangers.
Since its last regulation loss, the Hurricanes also own nine one-goal victories, including Sunday’s wild 5-4 win against the New Jersey Devils that also gave them a point in 12 straight road games, matching the team record set Feb. 23-March 27, 2004.
On Sunday, the Hurricanes blew a trio of one-goal leads before Martin Necas scored a tying power-play goal with 4:28 remaining in regulation. Former Ranger Derek Stepan scored twice, and Sebastian Aho scored a short-handed tally before Andrei Svechnikov scored the only goal of the shootout in the third round to keep their seven-point standings lead over New Jersey.
“We always know we have a chance to come back,” Carolina goalie Antti Raanta said. “Today was a great example of that. We made the game 4-4, battled through overtime and got the win in a shootout.”
Raanta made 24 saves and three more in the shootout and is 7-0-0 in his past seven decisions. Before Sunday, he made a combined 43 saves in consecutive shutouts over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers.
Raanta allowed 13 goals to the Rangers last spring when the Hurricanes blew a 2-0 lead by losing four of the final five games. The Hurricanes allowed one goal in the first two games but yielded 19 the rest of the series, including seven on power plays.
After rallying past Carolina, the Rangers lost a six-game series to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals before getting off to a middling start this season. Since a 5-2 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks a month ago, New York is 9-2-1, a stretch that includes a seven-game winning streak.
Since the streak ended two weeks ago, the Rangers are 2-1-1, including an ugly 4-0 home loss to the Washington Capitals last Tuesday. After that loss, the Rangers produced better showings in a two-game swing through Tampa Bay and Florida.
The Rangers matched a season high with 46 shots on goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to Tampa Bay Thursday. On Sunday, they scored twice on the power play for the sixth time this season in a 5-3 win at Florida.
Before Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck scored on the man advantage, the Rangers were 4-for-23 in the previous nine games.
“Having great looks and great opportunities is not enough for the power play,” New York defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “We have to score. A lot of the message after the Washington game was to put it behind us that we’d won seven straight and had been playing good hockey before that.”
–Field Level Media