Rangers clinch playoffs with OT win

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 25, 2013

NEW YORK - JANUARY 25: Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against on January 25, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan scored 2:55 into overtime, and New York rallied to clinch a third straight Eastern Conference playoff berth by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Thursday night. Brad Richards tied it for the Rangers with 2:57 remaining in regulation after New York blew an early 2-0 lead and fell behind already-eliminated Carolina. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard staked the Rangers to the lead in the first period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 18 shots for New York, which jumped over the rival Islanders and into seventh place in the East with one game left. Jiri Tlusty had two goals and Tuomo Ruutu also scored for Carolina, which played without injured forward Alexander Semin. He sat out after sustaining a concussion that will also sideline him for the season finale at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Dan Ellis finished with 34 saves for Carolina. The Rangers pushed this one into overtime with a bizarre goal. Richards uncorked a shot from the blue line that bounced hard off the end boards and clicked off Ellis' right skate and into his own net. Callahan then ended it in OT by snapping a shot off the post and past Ellis, sending the Rangers spilling onto the ice in celebration. That capped a remarkable reversal after the Hurricanes led for most of the third period. Tlusty's second goal was scored 49 seconds into the period and put the Hurricanes up 3-2. It was Carolina's only shot of the first 18 1/2 minutes of the third period, and it came after the Hurricanes -- who have piled up huge shot totals all season -- managed just four in the second period yet scored on two. Tlusty pulled Carolina within 2-1 when he scored on the power play 4:51 into the second. Ruutu tied it 3 minutes later with a wrist shot from the circle. That put all the pressure on the Rangers, who were trying to avoid their second straight loss to a non-playoff team from the Southeast Division with a postseason spot on the line for them. New York was in danger of dropping below the postseason cutoff if it lost to Carolina. The Hurricanes had long since been eliminated from playoff contention, so for them, this game was meaningful for a different reason. Forward Jared Staal, recalled from the minor leagues on Wednesday, joined two of his older brothers in the starting lineup against the Rangers -- fourth brother Marc's team -- though he has been out since early March after taking a puck to his eye. It is the 10th time that three brothers played for the same team in the same season in North American major pro sports history and the first time since the Statsnys did it for the Quebec Nordiques in 1985, according to STATS. It didn't take Stepan long to remind everyone that this was a hockey game, not a family reunion. He streaked down the center of the ice, took a cross-ice pass from Carl Hagelin and slipped the puck between Ellis' pads at 3:19. Brassard made it 2-0 with 4:08 left in the first when he slipped unchecked behind the net, scooped up a loose puck and whipped it into an open net. But that was it until Richards and Callahan came up with their big goals. Notes: D Michael Del Zotto and Hagelin both had two assists for the Rangers. ... Carolina D Jay Harrison didn't return after leaving with a bloody face. He was struck by a wrist shot by Callahan 2:36 into the second. Harrison wasn't wearing a visor. ... Carolina D Justin Faulk was voted team MVP, and RW Patrick Dwyer won the Josef Vasicek Award for cooperation with local media in voting by the local Professional Hockey Writers Association. ... Carolina D Tim Gleason was selected by his teammates as the Steve Chiasson Award winner for determination and dedication.
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