Having to play a game after watching the members of the 1994 Stanley Cup championship team thrill the Madison Square Garden crowd by just walking on the ice couldn’t have been easy for the present-day Rangers.
Their opponent, Carolina, had lost 16 straight games in the building dating to January 2011. But the Hurricanes were in no mood to play patsy this time, spoiling the festivities with three third-period goals and beating the Rangers, 3-0, on Friday night.
Warren Foegele scored at 6:43 of the third period before Andrei Svechnikov and Brock McGinn added empty-netters at 18:45 and 19:31 to puff up the score. Petr Mrazek had 27 saves to earn the shutout for Carolina.
“It came down to one play, and it was a tough one],’’ said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who played the game wearing a new mask that was a replica of the one Mike Richter wore in 1993-94. “Because, going into the game here, I think we all felt inspired and excited to play. It’s great to see all these guys come in here. You really get inspired to see what they went through and accomplished. I think we all want to do the same, experience the same feelings and emotions. So I was really excited to play the game and get going, but unfortunately, we couldn’t get the win.’’
Lundqvist made 30 saves, but he couldn’t see Foegele’s shot until the last instant because he was screened by defenseman Brady Skjei, who dropped down in front of him in an attempt to block it.
The Rangers (23-23-8) are 1-2-1 on a five-game homestand that will end Sunday when John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town. The Blueshirts have been shut out twice in the last seven games.
After Foegele’s goal, Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin was penalized for holding Pavel Buchnevich with 5:50 left, giving the Rangers their second power play of the game. But they failed to take advantage, and coach David Quinn said the power play “killed us’’ all night.
“There was certainly a lack of urgency, which is surprising,’’ he said. “It was certainly set up to be a special night. We just didn’t capitalize on it. Still, it’s 1-0 and we get a power play and we just really didn’t do anything with it.’’