Two of the hottest teams in the NHL meet when the New York Rangers visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
The Hurricanes, who lead the Metropolitan Division, are riding a seven-game winning streak and have earned points in each of their past 10 (9-0-1).
New York has won four straight games after a 6-3 win over the visiting Seattle Kraken on Friday night and has registered points in its past six (5-0-1).
Vladimir Tarasenko, obtained in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, made an immediate impression on the Madison Square Garden faithful. He scored on his first shot as a Ranger when he converted a pass from Artemi Panarin in the first period against Seattle.
“Obviously it’s nice to connect for a goal,” Tarasenko said. “We hope more are coming.”
Tarasenko skated on New York’s top line with Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
“It’s a great way to start his career with the Rangers, scoring on the second shift,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of Tarasenko. “He’s excited to play. He’s a good hockey player and he’s going to help our team be a real good team.”
Kaapo Kakko, Vincent Trocheck and Ryan Lindgren each had a goal and an assist for New York, which led 5-1 and held on after Seattle pulled within 5-3 in the third period.
Panarin has seven assists in his past six games, and teammate Filip Chytil enters Saturday with a six-game point streak (seven goals, two assists).
The Rangers have scored four or more goals in four straight games and are 20-0-0 when doing so this season.
Carolina will be rested and waiting, coming off its bye week and idle since a 5-1 road win over the Buffalo Sabres in the second of back-to-back games on Feb. 1.
In that contest, Sebastian Aho scored his 23rd goal and matched his career-best goal streak of six games with a first-period tally. He has nine goals during the current streak.
The Hurricanes have scored first in 34 of their 51 games, going 26-4-4 in those contests. They have outscored their opponents 32-16 during the winning streak.
“A little bit of everything, and I think that’s the key,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said when asked what’s been going right. “Every game there’s something here or there, but we’ve played pretty consistently. They work really hard and that’s the cornerstone of our group. We get contributions up and down our lineup.”
Brent Burns, a 37-year-old defenseman in his first season with Carolina, scored his 10th goal of the season against the Sabres and extended his point streak seven games (four goals, four assists).
“You feel something building, but there’s a lot of teams that have that,” Burns said. “There’s so much that goes into it. I played with some great teams in San Jose. We were close, but we never got over the hill. Obviously, that’s the goal. That’s the dream.”
The Hurricanes could get a roster boost against New York. Brind’Amour is hopeful that defenseman Jaccob Slavin will return after missing the past six games with a lower-body injury.
Carolina is facing New York for the second time this season after taking a 5-3 road loss on Jan. 3 that snapped the Hurricanes 11-game winning streak and 17-game point streak.
–Field Level Media