NEW YORK – Seth Jarvis and Jordan Staal scored third-period goals and Frederik Andersen made 28 saves as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Tuesday night in a showdown for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Chris Kreider scored late for his 50th goal of the season, but Carolina moved four points ahead of second-place New York with eight games remaining in the regular season.
Kreider became the fourth player in Rangers history to reach the plateau. His previous career high was 28 goals.
“It's hard after a game like that,'' Kreider said. “It's something I appreciate, it's just hard to appreciate it right now.”
The Rangers had their three-game winning streak snapped but are 7-2-1 in their last 10. They clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2017 with a win over Ottawa last Saturday and are 24-8-4 at home.
“The first was real good. In the second they sort of took the momentum away and then they got that early goal in the third,'' Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”Tonight to me was an even game. ... We learned some lessons."
The Rangers' potent power play went 0 for 4 as the Hurricanes played stout defense when necessary.
“That was the game in a nutshell,'' Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. ”They score on one of those and it's a totally different game."
After the teams traded goals in the second period, Jarvis put the Hurricanes ahead at 1:04 of the third, taking a pass from Sebastian Aho and flipping a backhand past goalie Igor Shesterkin. Aho finished with a goal and two assists. He leads the Hurricanes with 41 assists and 75 points. Shesterkin made 21 saves.
The goal was the 14th of the season for the rookie Jarvis, a first-round draft pick by Carolina in 2020. Former Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei also assisted.
“Everyone knew how big of a game this was,'' Jarvis said. ”Whatever we can do to widen the gap is good."
Staal, the Hurricanes captain, made it 3-1 at 6:42 with his 14th goal. Staal has six goals in his last four games. Skjei and another former Ranger, forward Jesper Fast, had assists.
"It was strange walking into the building and going the other way,'' Skjei said about his first game back at The Garden since he was traded to Carolina in February 2020. "It was good to see some people around the rink I hadn't seen. And it was much better we got the win.”
Kreider scored his milestone goal at 18:22 but Aho added an empty-netter, his 34th, at 19:54 to complete the scoring.
With a chance to tie the Hurricanes for first place, the Rangers were hosting Carolina in its first visit to Madison Square Garden since Dec. 27, 2019.
“To be here in the morning skate, I was looking up at the rafters and checking everything out,'' said Jarvis, a 20-year-old Winnipeg native making his first trip to New York. ”It was super cool and to score was awesome.”
The Rangers entered 18-1-0 in their last 19 home games against the Hurricanes, who proved why they have been atop the division for the majority of the season.
The teams split the first two meetings this season in North Carolina. The Hurricanes won 6-3 on Jan. 21, then the Rangers won 2-0 on March 20.
"We came out hard, we competed and we just came up a little bit short,'' Rangers defenseman Adam Fox said.
The Rangers outshot the Hurricanes 14-8 in a scoreless first before defenseman K’Andre Miller opened the scoring at 1:03 of the second. Miller converted a pass from Mika Zibanejad for his seventh goal of the season. Frank Vatrano also assisted.
Zibanejad has a career-best 48 assists, including four in his last three games.
Vatrano has six goals and four assists in 14 games with the Rangers since he was acquired from Florida last month.
Andrei Svechnikov tied it for Carolina at 13:38 of the second with his 29th goal. Svechnikov managed to bank the puck off Shesterkin’s skate from behind the goal line. Assists went to Jarvis and Aho.
Kreider became the fourth player in NHL history to score 50 goals for the first time at age 30 or older. He tied Walt Tkaczuk for 11th-most goals in Rangers history with 227.
Gallant praised his hard-working left wing, who was drafted by the Rangers in 2009 and has spent his entire career in New York.
"I think it's awesome he scored 50 goals. That's huge. It's great to see,'' Gallant said. ”Too bad we had to lose when a guy scores his 50th, but hats off to him."
HADFIELD ON KREIDER
Vic Hadfield, the first Rangers player to reach the 50-goal mark in 1972, said he is thrilled for Kreider to join an exclusive club that also includes Adam Graves (52) and Jaromir Jagr, who has the team record of 54.
“He’s a special player. He gets in the right position, goes into that front area where nobody is. He does that so well,’’ said Hadfield, who scored 262 goals for the Rangers and whose retired No. 11 jersey hangs from The Garden rafters. “Nobody is happier than me. It couldn’t happen to a nicer kid.”
NOTES: The teams meet again April 26 at MSG. … The Hurricanes have six former Rangers on their roster. Four played. ... The Rangers scratched forwards Greg McKegg, Filip Chytil, Julien Gauther, Tyler Motte and Jonny Brodzinski, plus defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Libor Hajek. … The Hurricanes scratched Derek Stepan, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and defenseman Ethan Bear.
Rangers: Visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Hurricanes: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports