Vesey, Zuccarello lead Rangers to 6-3 win over Hurricanes
NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Vesey’s first career hat trick came at a good time for the struggling Rangers.
Vesey scored three times, Mats Zuccarello had two goals and New York beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 on Monday night.
“It’s something you definitely want to accomplish,” Vesey said. “I was just saying I remember it took me all four years in college to get one. It’s nice to have one.
“Everyone dreams when they are a kid of scoring the big goal or scoring a hat trick. I think it’s something I will always remember, so it’s a great feeling.”
Vladislav Namestnikov also scored for the Rangers, who ended a three-game losing streak and earned their first home win since Feb. 9. Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad each had three assists.
Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev made 41 saves for his second win of the season.
Georgiev made a key pad save on Sebastian Aho late in the third period to preserve the lead.
“I knew they were coming hard,” Georgiev said. “It’s just instinct how I stretched that pad.”
Teuvo Teravainen, Lee Stempniak and Victor Rask scored for the Hurricanes. Scott Darling, who has struggled in his first season with Carolina, made 17 stops.
Tied at 3 in the third, Vesey took a loose puck at the left faceoff circle and wristed a high shot past Darling at 12:15.
“That’s where I was going,” Vesey said. “I had a shot from a similar angle in the first period and I kind of misfired and put it lower than I wanted. I was definitely trying to go high blocker and just fortunately it went in.”
Zuccarello added an empty-netter at 17:23 for his 14th of the season and the 100th of his career, and Vesey capped his hat trick with an empty-netter in the final minute for his 15th goal this season.
The Rangers extended their home winning streak against Carolina to 15 games, dating to Jan. 5, 2011. The streak is the longest for the Rangers against one opponent in franchise history. The Rangers also have won 24 of their past 28 games overall against the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes have struggled with three wins in their past 12 games as they fade from the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“We are in a hole right now,” Stempniak said. “We still think we are going to make the playoffs and we believe we can, but it gets harder with each loss. We have to put this one behind us, get ready tomorrow for a very good Boston team, and start getting wins and collecting points.”
It was Carolina’s second game since Hall of Famer Ron Francis was moved from general manager to a new role as the team’s president of hockey operations. New owner Tom Dundon plans to hire a new GM who will report directly to him.
With the Hurricanes on the power play, Rask tied it for the third time when he skated to a loose puck at the top of the zone and beat Georgiev for his 13th at 8:23 of the third period.
Tied at 2 in the second period, the Rangers took the lead with a quick power-play goal. Just 6 seconds after Noah Hanifin was sent off for slashing, Buchnevich had his shot from just inside the blue line deflected in by Namestnikov at 11:51.
It was Namestnikov’s 22nd goal of the season and his second as a Ranger since coming over in the deal that sent Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller to Tampa Bay at the trade deadline.
Buchnevich also had a nice play earlier in the period. He won a faceoff deep in the Hurricanes’ zone and drove to the net before sending a pass to Vesey, who scored on a wrist shot at 1:52.
“He (Buchnevich) didn’t tell me anything,” Vesey said. “So once I saw him go forward, their D’s stick kind of stopped the puck a little bit and it was a quick 2-on-1. I just tried to get open and he made a great play.”
The Hurricanes rallied again. Stempniak jumped on a rebound and beat Georgiev for his second goal of the season at 7:48.
The Rangers opened the scoring about halfway through the first period. Neal Pionk’s shot from the right point missed the net and took a friendly bounce off the end boards to Zuccarello, who beat Darling stick-side at 9:06.
Zuccarello extended his goal-scoring streak to three games.
The Hurricanes answered 5 1/2 minutes later. Aho entered the Rangers zone and sent a quick pass to Teravainen, who immediately sent a return pass to Aho. Aho shot it on net and Teravainen sent the rebound past Georgiev for his 20th of the season.
NOTES: The Hurricanes re-assigned F Valentin Zykov to the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers. The 22-year-old Zykov, who leads the AHL with 30 goals, did not appear in any games since his recall on Sunday. ... Zuccarello has a point in 15 of his past 19 games against Carolina. ... Rangers D Tony DeAngelo left because of an ankle injury. Coach Alain Vigneault said DeAngelo will get an MRI on Tuesday.
Hurricanes: Host Boston on Tuesday night.
Rangers: Host two-time defending champion Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
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