RALEIGH, N.C. — They don’t handle snow very well here in the South, so a lot of folks probably decided to stay home Friday night rather than come out to watch this matchup for first place in the Metropolitan Division between the Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Tony DeAngelo gave the fans who did show up quite a show.
The former Rangers defenseman — playing his first game for Carolina against his old team — had a goal and two assists and drew chants of "Tony! Tony!’’ when he did the postgame interview after a 6-3 win that pulled Carolina into a tie with the Blueshirts for the division lead. The Rangers have played four more games than Carolina has.
Afterward, the Rangers sounded like a humbled bunch.
"It’s a really good team we’re playing against,’’ Mika Zibanejad said. "I didn’t feel like we got up to the level we needed to . . . They were the best team we’ve played against, really, that took advantage of the stuff we did wrong and our mistakes. It’s a good lesson for us.’’
"They looked like strong men,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said. "They took some pucks to the net against us. Our coverage wasn’t good in the ‘D’ zone. Then again, not taking anything away from that team, we made some bad mistakes. But, you know, they force you into those bad mistakes.’’
The Rangers (26-11-4) were feeling pretty good about themselves after Wednesday’s 6-3 win over Toronto and were looking forward to measuring themselves against the Hurricanes (27-8-2), whom they were seeing for the first time this season in the Blueshirts’ 41st game.
The Rangers trailed 5-1 entering the third period before they finally showed some fight and put a late scare into the Hurricanes. Chris Kreider’s power-play goal at 5:09 of the third period — his 26th goal of the season — got them back into the game, and Greg McKegg’s first goal of the season got them within 5-3 at 6:23.
But after a slashing penalty to Alexis Lafreniere gave the Hurricanes their second power play of the game, DeAngelo ended the suspense, firing a shot past Alexandar Georgiev for his seventh goal of the season.
DeAngelo was waived by the Rangers a few weeks into last season after several transgressions, the last of which was when he goaded Georgiev into a fight after an overtime loss.
The Rangers were unable to trade DeAngelo and no team claimed him off waivers, so he sat out the rest of the season and signed with Carolina in the summer.
Gallant surprised some by choosing to start Georgiev in goal instead of No. 1 goalie Igor Shesterkin. But the way the Rangers played in the first two periods, it’s hard to imagine Shesterkin would have been able to change the outcome.
Carolina outshot the Blueshirts 11-4 in the first period and 16-10 in the second.
The Hurricanes opened the scoring on a power-play goal by Vincent Trochek, who tipped in a shot by DeAngelo at 13:13 of the first period. They made it 2-0 on a tap-in goal by Seth Jarvis, off a pass from Sebastian Aho, at 17:21.
DeAngelo set up another former Ranger, Jesper Fast, for a one-timer that made it 3-0 at 3:33 of the second before a power-play goal by Zibanejad at 6:36 got the Rangers on the board at 3-1. But goals by Aho and Nino Niederreiter (with 27.1 seconds left in the period) gave the Hurricanes a 5-1 lead entering the third.