Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin makes a save against Hurricanes center...

Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin makes a save against Hurricanes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the second period of an NHL game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Jimmy Vesey viewed it as a lost opportunity.

The Rangers forward had a look of regret, almost, after the Rangers failed to hold two one-goal leads in the third period and ended up losing the final game of their homestand, 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Teuvo Teravainen’s redirection of a Brent Burns shot/pass with 2:33 remaining broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Hurricanes their first victory over the Rangers in three tries this season. The teams play again, for the final time in the regular season, on Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The loss snapped the Rangers’ four-game win streak and seven-game point streak, and it dealt a blow to the Blueshirts’ hopes of really shaking up the Metropolitan Division standings, with the division race coming down to its final few games.

“It's tough,’’ Vesey said. “We played them tonight, and [play them again] two days from now. And then we have one more game against Jersey. So I think [Tuesday’s game] was an opportunity for us to make it a little interesting in the standings.’’

There are still 11 games left for the Rangers to make it interesting, beginning with Thursday’s rematch at Carolina, but the possibilities don’t seem as wide open as they did going into Tuesday. Four straight victories had pulled the Blueshirts within five points of the second-place Devils and six of the Hurricanes in the division standings, and a win Tuesday by the Blueshirts would have tightened the division race and really made things interesting.

Instead, with Carolina winning and the Devils losing in overtime to Minnesota, the Hurricanes (46-15-8, 100 points) opened a two-point lead over the 45-18-8 Devils (98 points), with two games in hand. And they are eight points ahead of the Rangers (41-20-10, 92).

All of which meant nothing to Rangers coach Gerard Gallant, who is focused on each game individually, rather than looking at the bigger picture.

“I don't care about the past games,’’ a disappointed Gallant said. “The points and the standings, that doesn't matter. It's about playing well, and winning points when you get a chance. And tonight, we didn't play near well enough to beat that team.’’

Tyler Motte’s third goal in four games, at 17 minutes of the first period, had given the Rangers a lead after a first period in which the Rangers mostly had the edge over the visitors. But Carolina began to take control of the play in the second, spending long stretches of time in the Rangers’ zone and outshooting them 15-5 in the middle period. For the game, the Hurricanes outshot the Rangers 40-30.

Only the brilliance of goaltender Igor Shesterkin (36 saves) kept the Rangers in the lead through the first two periods, but eventually, Jake Chatfield’s shot from the right wing eluded Shesterkin and tied the game, 1-1, at 9:49 of the third period. The goal ended a scoreless run of 120 minutes and 40 seconds for Shesterkin, going back to Jake Guentzel’s goal at 9:09 of the third period in the 4-2 win over Pittsburgh.

Thirty-one seconds after Chatfield scored, though, the Rangers re-took the lead on a goal by Kaapo Kakko at 10:20. It was Kakko’s first goal since Feb. 25, a span of 12 games. But the Rangers were hardly done celebrating when Stefan Noesen somehow found himself wide-open in the low slot, just above the goal crease, to bang in a pass from ex-Ranger Jesper Fast, to tie the game again at 2-2.

“When you get the lead, you can’t give it up as quickly as we did,’’ Rangers defenseman Adam Fox said.

Fox got to play with his regular defense partner, Ryan Lindgren, for the first time since Lindgren suffered a shoulder injury in a game against Washington Feb. 25. Lindgren returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing 11 games.

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