RALEIGH, N.C. — Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast each scored twice Wednesday and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves as the Rangers routed the Hurricanes, 6-1.
The Blueshirts, who have won two straight and eight of their last 10, played without captain Ryan McDonagh, who sat out for the first time this season because of an abdominal injury. He isn’t expected to play Friday either when the Blueshirts host Detroit.
“We came ready to play,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “I don’t think we gave them three or four chances five-on-five in the whole game. Without naming anybody in particular, this was a real solid team effort, both offensively and defensively. It was a big two points for us.”
The Rangers (11-9-2) seized the early momentum, scoring on their first two shots on goal. Kreider opened the scoring just 52 seconds into the game. The winger finished off a three-way passing play from J.T. Miller and defenseman Brendan Smith, scoring his sixth goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, the Blueshirts made it 2-0 on a strange goal from Mika Zibanejad, who flipped the puck toward the Carolina net from the neutral zone. Like an outfielder misjudging a fly ball, Carolina goaltender Scott Darling whiffed on Zibanejad’s high-arcing shot and the puck sailed into the net. It was Zibanejad’s team-leading 11th goal.
A Rangers’ too-many men penalty at 7:47 opened the door for Carolina to answer on a power-play goal from Sebastian Aho, cutting the lead to 2-1. Carolina looked to be building momentum off the goal, but Rangers fourth-line winger Paul Carey banged in a rebound at 10:47 for his first goal of the season to make it 3-1.
Lundqvist held the line over the remainder of the first, stopping 16 of 17 Hurricanes shots in the period, including a sprawling glove save to rob Jordan Staal on a point-blank rebound attempt.
“We talked about a couple simple little things that we needed to do [after the first period],” Vigneault said, “and we were much better after that . . . Our goalie made some big saves, and after that we did a real good job in front of him.”
The second period passed without any scoring. The Rangers managed only one shot on goal through the first 17 minutes of the period, though they did have two close calls.
Michael Grabner rang a shot off the crossbar behind Darling at 2:30, and Jimmy Vesey hit the post at the 10-minute mark. After spending most of the period on the defensive, the Blueshirts generated a flurry of chances late, forcing Darling to make four saves over the final three minutes.
The Rangers pulled away in the third period. Kreider notched his second goal of the game, a power-play goal, just 20 seconds into the period, scoring off his own rebound after a feed from Mats Zuccarello.
“Guys had to step up [without McDonagh],” Kreider said. “Obviously, it’s a hole you can’t really fill. I thought Brendan did an incredible job tonight. A lot of guys on the back end did.” Smith and defenseman Nick Holden each were a plus-4.
Fast, who had scored only one goal in 16 games coming in, scored twice 6:41 apart in the third period to close the scoring. Steven Kampfer picked up his first assist of the season on Fast’s second goal.