The way things turned out, Ryan Lindgren couldn’t have picked a more perfect game for his NHL debut.
With his mom, dad, brother and grandfather in the stands as the Rangers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night, Lindgren, the 6-foot, 201-pound rookie called up from AHL Hartford Monday, broke into the NHL in a game in which the Rangers continued their weird dominance over the Hurricanes at the Garden, beating them, 6-2, to earn just their second victory in eight games in 2019. The win was the Rangers’ 16th in a row at home against Carolina, dating to January of 2011. It is their longest home winning streak against any opponent.
Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Tony DeAngelo had two goals — Zibanejad also had two assists — and Mats Zuccarello had three assists as the Rangers bounced back from Sunday’s 7-5 loss in Columbus. After that game, coach David Quinn ripped into the team for not being competitive enough and losing too many one-on-one battles.
Quinn downplayed the notion that the Rangers won Tuesday because they were responding to his sharp words.
“I don’t think any,’’ he said, when asked how much the Rangers’ performance was a result of his calling the team out. “I think we had played three good games before the debacle in Columbus, and I think we built off that. We moved past what happened in Columbus and guys took ownership of it and righted a wrong.’’
The power play went 3-for-3 and the penalty kill also went 3-for-3 for the Rangers (19-20-7). And Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up 15 goals in his previous three starts, and was pulled in two of them, was sharp, making 34 saves to earn his first win of 2019.
Lindgren, who was acquired from the Bruins last February in the Rick Nash trade, described himself at the morning skate as a “hard-nosed, physical defenseman.’’ Partnered with Kevin Shattenkirkr, he played 15:22 and was credited with three hits and three blocked shots.
He finished minus-1.
“That first shift, we had just scored a goal \[by DeAngelo, at 1:16 of the first period), so it was kind of nice to go out there after that,’’ Lindgren said. “I think, after that first shift, you kind of realize it’s another hockey game. Obviously, the pace is incredibly fast, but you just kind of get into it after that first shift — hit a guy, take a shot — I just think that kind of gets you into it.’’
Lindgren, one of the highly anticipated prospects the Rangers are counting on to turn their fortunes around, went over some of the memories he’ll take with him from the game.
“Taking that lap by myself was something special,’’ he said. “Warmups. Sitting on the bench, sitting next to Brady \[Skjei\], was incredible, growing up with him. There are so many moments that were so special during all of it, and I’ll always remember it, for sure.’’
DeAngelo, who played his 100th game, got the Rangers started with his first goal at 1:16, but Saku Maenalanen scored the first of his two goals to tie it at 9:24. With Greg McKegg off for tripping, Zibanejad scored his first goal at 12:41. Zibanejad’s second goal made it 3-1 at 14:22, and Buchnevich scored at 3:41 of the second and 4:19 of the third to make it 5-1. After Maenalanen’s second goal, at 11:51, DeAngelo added his second at 12:55 to close the scoring.