Messier and the Rangers try to stay hot as they face the Carolina Hurricanes for the third time this season.
Messier scored two goals Tuesday to pass Gordie Howe for second on the NHL points list with 1,851 as the Rangers beat the Dallas Stars 3-0. Messier passed Howe with his second score, an empty netter with 4.7 seconds left.
The Rangers’ 42-year-old center, a 16-time All-Star and six-time Stanley Cup champion, ranks eighth all-time with 682 goals and is tied for third with 1,169 assists. With 1,691 games played, he is 76 behind Howe.
“Mark is a complete package. Everything,” said defenseman Brian Leetch, Messier’s teammate for 10 seasons. “It’s leadership, it’s playmaking, physical play. Like I said yesterday, it’s relationships with his teammates, his love for the game, and all those things that go into longevity and being able to have an impact on a lot of individuals and a lot of teams.
“The teams change a lot around Mark, and he’s been able to have an influence on each and every one of them.”
The Rangers’ captain doesn’t appear to be slowing down this season. He leads New York with six goals and has scored four in his last four games, leading the team to a 3-0-0-1 mark during that span.
The Rangers, who have not reached the playoffs in six seasons, are battling for the Atlantic Division lead.
“Well, I can’t lie. I definitely wanted to do it in this rink,” Messier said of reaching the milestone at Madison Square Garden. “I think you only have one opportunity to do things like this, and I wasn’t going to jeopardize anything not to do it at the home rink, obviously, but to do it here is special for me.”
With No. 1 goalie Mike Dunham sitting Tuesday night with a sore groin, Markkanen could get a second straight start Thursday following his excellent performance.
The Hurricanes suffered a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, their third straight defeat.
“We’ve got to find a way to dig ourselves out of this hole,” Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley said. “We’ve got to find a way to be better collectively.”
Ron Francis scored on a man advantage to earn his first power-play point of the season for the Hurricanes, who failed to get at least 30 shots for just the second time this season.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 4): Rangers - 13 points, 3rd place, 1 PB, Atlantic Division. Hurricanes - 8 points, 4th place, 7 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Rangers - Messier, 6 goals; Alexei Kovalev, 7 assists and 8 points; Chris Simon, 66 PIM. Hurricanes - Josef Vasicek, 6 goals and 9 points; Jeff O’Neill, 7 assists; Jesse Boulerice, 29 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 4): Rangers - Power play: 8.5 percent (4 for 47), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (53 for 62), 10th. Hurricanes - Power play: 8.3 percent (4 for 48), 30th. Penalty killing: 86 percent (43 for 50), 7th.
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Oct. 30; Rangers, 4-1. At New York, Jamie Lundmark had a goal and an assist, and Dunham stopped 29 shots for the Rangers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 1-2-0-0 on the road; Hurricanes - 1-2-1-0 at home.