What it means: The Rangers didn't make it easy on themselves, but they still managed to clinch a playoff berth with a 4-3 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. With a late push to tie the game deep into the third period, the Rangers went on to record their eighth straight win against the Canes after captain Ryan Callahan recorded the game winner at 2:55 in overtime. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist made 18 saves to secure his 23rd win of the season. The Rangers, who squandered an opportunity to clinch against the Panthers on Tuesday night, will be making their third straight postseason appearance.
Tense third period: With his second goal of the night and fourth in three games, Carolina's Jiri Tlusty converted on an odd-man rush for a 3-2 Carolina lead less than a minute into the third period. The Rangers secured a huge point, however, in pushing the game to overtime on a lucky bounce. With less than three minutes in regulation, Brad Richards unleashed a slap shot that banked off the boards and then Canes goaltender Dan Ellis for a flukey power-play goal that tied the game at 3.
Tie game: Erasing a 2-0 deficit, the Canes pulled even with the Rangers with a pair of goals in the middle frame. First came a tic-tac-toe power-play goal by Tlusty to extend his point streak to seven games. Tuomo Ruutu then knotted the score at 2 with his snap shot at 7:51 of the second.
Man down: Adding further concern to a disheartening second period, Rangers forward Ryane Clowe had to be helped off the ice by two teammates. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the injury to Clowe, but the rugged winger did not return to the game. The team did not specify whether it was an upper- or lower-body injury.
Early action: A pair of first-period goals gave the Rangers an early advantage against the Canes. Derek Stepan was the first to score, converting a terrific no-look pass from Carl Hagelin just 3:19 into play. Second-line center Derick Brassard made it 2-0 later in the period, squeezing a top-shelf shot past Ellis with 4:08 remaining in the second.
Family affair: Jared Staal became the fourth Staal brother to make his NHL debut as he joined siblings Eric and Jordan in the Canes' lineup Thursday night one day after being recalled from Charlotte of the American Hockey League. The youngest Staal brother did not get to face second-eldest brother Marc, however. The 26-year-old defenseman has been sidelined since being struck in the eye with a puck March 5.
Lineup changes: A healthy scratch for much of the season, defenseman Matt Gilroy made his first appearance since March 12. Gilroy replaced Arron Asham on the fourth line’s right wing; Asham flew home to New York for family reasons. The Hurricanes dressed only 19 skaters, with Joe Corvo a late scratch due to an upper-body injury. Alexander Semin also sat out with a concussion.
Up next: Rangers versus Devils, Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.