NEW YORK CITY, NY (WNCN) – The Carolina Hurricanes set franchise records with 53 wins and 114 points Tuesday night in their 4-3 win over the New York Rangers, surpassing records set in their season 2005-06 Stanley Cup winner.
Carolina (53-20-8) concluded the Metropolitan Division with one game remaining heading into the playoffs, despite one game more than all but one other team in its division. The 114 points is six better than the second-placed Rangers (51-23-6).
But smooth sailing wasn’t like this until a few weeks ago.
“Three weeks ago we were a little worried there,” left winger Jordan Martinook said. “The last four or five, we kind of righted the ship. When I first came here to make the playoffs it was the pinnacle and now it’s division champions two years in a row.
The standard is much higher now.
Center Vincent Trochek had a goal and an assist while center Sebastian Aho scored the winner with his 37th goal of the season.
But the real story, again, was the play of rookie goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov who stopped 31 Rangers shots in his third appearance for the Hurricanes.
“He did a really good job for us,” defender Brady Skjei said. “He has confidence, he has a bit of swagger which I think you need as a goalkeeper with the way he was thrown into the game.
The win gives the Hurricanes home-court advantage when the playoffs begin next week. However, their opponent is not yet fixed.
“It’s a great achievement,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour of the Metropolitan Division title. “But that just wasn’t our goal from day one. It’s kinda hard not to get excited, but we should enjoy it for a night.