Charlotte Checkers

Canes’ lose 16th straight game to Rangers at Madison Square Garden

The Carolina Hurricanes will win again one day at Madison Square Garden, but that day was not Tuesday.

The Canes, who were winless against the New York Rangers in their last 15 games at the Garden, made it 16 straight with 6-2 loss.

Generally lifeless much of the game, the Canes got two goals from rookie forward Saku Maenalanen and some energized play from his line, which had Victor Rask at center and winger Warren Foegele. That’s the Canes’ fourth line. The top three lines had little or no impact.

“I don’t think we had enough guys emotionally invested,” Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It was a little flat. We needed more from some guys and just didn’t have it tonight. We got off to a bad start and never got going, it felt like.”

The Rangers (19-20-7) again had goalie Henrik Lundqvist in net. And Lundqvist did what he so often does: beat the Canes, winning for the 20th time in his last 23 games against Carolina.

The Canes’ top line, with center Sebastian Aho and wingers Teuvo Teravainen and Micheal Ferland, had been on a point-producing tear the past two games in wins over Buffalo and Nashville. But the Rangers’ top line, centered by Mika Zibanejad, was dominant this night and Aho’s line quiet.

Zibanejad had two goals and two assists, and Tony DeAngelo and Pavel Buchnevich each scored twice as the Rangers rebounded from a miserable 7-5 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets that had New York coach David Quinn challenging his team.

The Rangers torched the Canes’ penalty killers, scoring on all three power plays. That made for a long night for goalie Curtis McElhinney, who also had his struggles and had his personal four-game win streak end.

“Special teams killed us,” Brind’Amour said.

On a first-period power play, the Canes briefly had a 5-on-2 advantage heading up the ice after two Rangers collided and fell in the Carolina zone. But Lucas Wallmark’s pass ended up in the skates of Andrei Svechnikov and the Rangers soon cleared the puck.

So it went for the Canes (22-19-5), who had won seven of their past eight games to make a move in the Eastern Conference standings. Carolina has not beaten the Rangers at the Garden since October 2010.]

“We just weren’t very sharp or mentally engaged,” defenseman Justin Faulk said.

After playing three games in four days, beating the Predators 6-3 on Sunday, the Canes had a practice Monday in Raleigh before the team flight to New York and skipped the morning skate Tuesday in New York.

Sluggish from the opening faceoff the Canes allowed a goal 1:16 into the game as DeAngelo zipped one through traffic. That set the tone.

Carolina Hurricanes right wing Saku Maenalanen (8) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) Mary Altaffer AP

Maenalanen tied the score with his first goal, swiping the puck in the New York zone and quickly whipping a shot past Lundqvist, but Zibanejad scored two in the period -- the first on a power play -- as the Rangers led 3-1.

Buchnevich’s two goals, both on power plays, pushed the lead to 5-1 in the the third before Maenalanen scored again, redirecting a Rask shot. It was Maenalanen’s fourth goal, all in the past five games.

Canes captain Justin Williams, who had goals in five straight games and points in seven straight, had both streaks end.

“A few guys had good games,” Brind’Amour said. “Unfortunately it was a wasted effort because we didn’t have enough guys going. We just didn’t have it. It’s frustrating this time of year when you need the points, but it’s a long year and we have to regroup.”

In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the N.C. State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and now is in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was a part of The N&O’s coverage of the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.