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Rangers clinch playoff berth with overtime win

The SportsXchange

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The New York Rangers created playoff-like moments before reaching the postseason.

Captain Ryan Callahan scored midway through overtime and the Rangers punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at PNC Arena.

"It was as close to a playoff moment as you can get without being in the playoffs," Callahan said. "(It) was one of my most memorable goals."

The Rangers were in danger of losing for the first time all season when leading after the first period, but despite giving up a two-goal lead they responded.

Brad Richards tied the game on a power-play goal with 2:57 remaining in the third period for the Rangers, who are headed to the playoffs for the third year in a row.

Richards said it those were late-game situations to savor en route to the postseason.

"That was a classic way to do it," Richards said. "We stuck with it, then win it on a huge goal by Cally."

Jiri Tlusty scored two goals for the Hurricanes.

Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard scored in the first period for New York. Stepan assisted on the winning goal.

Carolina's Tlusty and Tuomo Ruutu scored in a three-minute span of the second period before Tlusty's third-period score.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 18 saves.

The Hurricanes were going for their first three-game winning streak since early March.

It was a memorable night for the Hurricanes nonetheless.

Three Staal brothers -- Eric, Jordan and, in his NHL debut, Jared -- were in the starting lineup for the Hurricanes. Jared Staal was called up from Charlotte of the American Hockey League a day earlier.

It marked the fourth time in the NHL that a trio of brothers has played for the same team in the same season. Jared Staal admitted to having "kind of the shakes" prior to the game.

Jared wore No. 13, while Eric wears No. 12 and Jordan wears No. 11. Jared Staal became the sixth player to make his NHL debut with the Hurricanes this season.

The Hurricanes nearly had an inspiring result for the second game in a row against what became a playoff-bound team.

"We're not in the playoffs, the next-best thing for us is to play these games against teams that are fighting for something," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "For me, it's not trying to be spoiler. I don't believe in that stuff."

But it was mostly about the Rangers, who improved to 12-0-1 when leading after the first period this season and improved to 8-4 in overtime games.

Stepan's goal came in transition just 3:19 into the game.

Brassard scored the next goal later in the period by coming around the net to corral a rebound and fire the puck past goalie Dan Ellis. Brassard has five goals in 12 games since arriving in a trade with Columbus.

The next three goals went to Carolina.

"We really competed," Ellis said. "It has gone like that all season. We played a tough game against a tough team, a team that's going to be in the playoffs."

Tlusty scored a second-period power-play goal, pushing his team-leading goals total to 22.

Ruutu's tally was his first in nine home games this season.

Eric Staal set up Tlusty's second goal, and that stood as the potential winning goal for about 16 minutes until Richards tied the score.

The Hurricanes began the night with a reduced lineup, then lost defenseman Jay Harrison to an upper-body injury in the second period.

New York lost wing Ryane Clowe to a second-period injury and he didn't return.

The Rangers concluded the road portion of their schedule with a 10-12-2 record, winning three of their last five away from home.

The Hurricanes finished with a 9-15-0 record on home ice. After the first 22 home games for Carolina were decided in regulation, the last two resulted in extra hockey.

The Rangers won their eighth consecutive meeting with Carolina.

NOTES: There would have been a fourth Staal on the ice if not for an injury suffered by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, an alternate captain who took a puck to the face near his right eye during a March game. ... Marc Staal is the Rangers' nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies perseverance and dedication to the game of hockey. ... The Rangers scratched right wing Arron Asham, who hadn't missed a game since April 1, because his wife is expecting a baby. That meant defenseman Matt Gilroy was in the lineup for the first time since March 12. ... Gilroy ended up in the penalty box in each of the first two periods, and those were the only penalties on the Rangers the entire game. The second time it resulted in a Carolinapower-play goal. ... The Hurricanes dressed only 19 players for the game. ... Carolina right wing Alexander Semin has a concussion and missed Thursday's game. ... Defenseman Joe Corvo of the Hurricanes sat out with an upper-body injury. ... Center Riley Nash was reassigned to Charlotte of the American Hockey League a day after his first NHL shootout attempt was a success when the Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders. Forward Tim Wallace was assigned to Charlotte as well Wednesday, but then he was recalled to the Carolina team later in the day when Semin's diagnosis was revealed. ... Second-year defenseman Justin Faulk of the Hurricanes was named the team's MVP by the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. ... The Rangers cap the regular season with Saturday's home game against New Jersey, which won't be in the playoffs. ... The Hurricanes finish the regular season Saturday at Pittsburgh, which has wrapped up the best record in the Eastern Conference.

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