Hurricanes 5, Rangers 3
Weight scored two goals and had an assist to help the Hurricanes set franchise records for victories, home wins and points in a season with a 5-3 victory over the slumping New York Rangers 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Matt Cullen, Mike Commodore and Cory Stillman also scored for the Hurricanes, who earned their 44th victory, 27th home win and 94th point in the standings—surpassing three records set in Hartford during the 1986-87 season.
Martin Gerber finished with 41 saves to help Carolina avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season.
Weight, acquired from St. Louis on Jan. 30, didn’t score a goal in his first 11 games with Carolina before finding the net in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Florida. But the 14-year NHL veteran and four-time All-Star followed that with his best showing for the Hurricanes, who need extra production after losing Erik Cole (30 goals) to a broken vertebra in his neck earlier this month.
“I love the fact that this team feels I can be a big piece of the puzzle to help us win,” Weight said. “That excites me. It’s a big move. You’re away from your family and you’re nervous about your teammates, and I’m the kind of guy I want to show them every shift that I’m worth it.
“I feel really strong on the ice. I plan on contributing and still my main goal is just to fit in on this team and help make them better. And I plan on doing that.”
Weight scored his first when he beat Kevin Weekes from the left side early in the second period, putting Carolina ahead to stay at 2-1. Weight scored again later in the period on a smooth push up the ice by Carolina, with Eric Staal sending the puck to the middle to Ray Whitney, who slipped it to Weight on the right side for the shot by Weekes 11 minutes into the period.
Carolina is hoping for similar results from veteran Mark Recchi, the team’s latest big-name acquisition. Recchi, playing in his first home game since being acquired from Pittsburgh shortly before Thursday’s trade deadline, got one shot in about 17 minutes of ice time for a team adjusting to its new pieces as it approaches the playoffs.
“It’s tough when you get traded,” Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s a whole new environment, surroundings, and every day provides a comfort level. You feel a little better, a little easier about what you’re supposed to be doing here. I think it’s really starting to show with (Weight).”
Carolina also got a strong game from Commodore, who scored early in the third to make it 4-2. He followed that with a big defensive play, stopping a shot from Martin Straka that slid between Gerber’s legs and nearly crossed the line with about 7 1/2 minutes left.
New York twice cut the deficit to one goal, the last time coming at 4-3 when Sykora corralled a loose puck during a scramble in front of the crease and beat Gerber with about 2 minutes left. But Stillman closed the door with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
That leaves the Rangers, holding a two-point lead on Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division, hoping to end their skid during a four-game homestand that starts Thursday night against Washington.
“It’s not a good situation that we are in,” said Jaromir Jagr, who earned his 50th assist on Nylander’s first goal. “Everybody knows how important these next four games are at home. It might be our season. That’s the way I look at it. I thought we started playing better in the last two games. It’s just that the results are not there.”
Carolina defensemen Bret Hedican (illness) and Niclas Wallin (lower-body injury) did not play. … Gerber played in his 100th NHL game. … Cole, out for the rest of the regular season, said he hopes to know more about a possible return for the playoffs in a few weeks. “It’s so tough to tell right now,” he said. … New York defenseman Marek Malik missed his fifth straight game because of a shoulder sprain.