Tony DeAngelo called it a meaningful game, but not for personal reasons.
The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman wanted to beat his former team to lift the Canes back into the lead in the Metropolitan Division. That was top priority Friday.
The Hurricanes did that, absorbing a few hard hits along the way but holding off the New York Rangers 6-3 at PNC Arena as DeAngelo and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and two assists.
The Canes (27-8-2) moved into first place in the Metro ahead of the Rangers (26-11-4), who had won three straight and had 15 road wins this season. Both have 56 points but the Canes have four games-in-hand on New York.
It was a game of speed and pace but also of push and shove -- and some big hits. The Canes led 5-1 after the second period, only to have the Rangers score twice in 74 seconds in the third to make it a two-goal game and make things a lot busier for Canes goalie Frederik Andersen, who won his 21st game.
Vincent Trocheck had a goal and assist for the Canes, and Andrei Svechnikov two assists.
The Canes led 2-0 after a decisive first period that had Carolina get a power-play goal from Trocheck and then a transition score from rookie forward Seth Jarvis. It was 3-0 in the second period after Jesper Fast, another former Ranger, scored on a long shot from the left point that goalie Alexandar Georgiev could not track.
DeAngelo had assists on the Trocheck goal and then the Fast goal, becoming the first defenseman in franchise history to earn 30 points in his first 30 games. After Trocheck scored, DeAngelo let out a big yell that smacked of satisfaction and celebration.
But, in a matter of seconds, things took a turn in the second period.
The Rangers’ Barclay Goodrow landed a huge hit on the Canes’ Teuvo Teravainen near the boards in the New York zone -- a clean but brutal blow that left Teravainen in pain on the ice. Canes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi immediately jumped in, going after Goodrow, but the Rangers ended up with a power play as Kotkaniemi was called for a double minor for roughing with 13:31 left in the period.
The Rangers quickly banged in a shot, Mika Zibanejad scoring, and New York continued to push. Andersen made a hustling right-pad save, robbing Artemi Panarin of a goal, and the Canes weathered it.
By then, Trocheck had limped off the ice after blocking a shot. The Canes, already missing forwards Martin Necas and Jordan Martinook, both in the NHL COVID protocol, were down two forwards in the game.
Down, but not out. Trocheck soon, returned in the period. And Teravainen came back in the period to lead an offensive flurry that ended with Aho scoring his 17th of the seasonhe Canes made it 5-1 in the final minute of the second as Andrei Svechnikov fed Nino Niederreiter in front for his 11th.
Teravainen did not return for the third period, when the Rangers made it interesting. Chris Kreider’s 26th goal, on a power play, and an even-strength score from former Canes forward Greg McKegg pulled New York within 5-3.
DeAngelo played 167 games for New York but had a controversial departure from the Rangers last year. After a Jan. 30, 2021, altercation with Georgiev following an overtime loss to Pittsburgh, DeAngelo was put on waivers and later had his contract bought out, making him a free agent.
DeAngelo found a team willing to give him another chance in the Hurricanes and has been a consistent contributor despite being sidelined with COVID-19.
Having overwhelmed the Boston Bruins in a 7-1 beating Tuesday, the Canes again were again dominant in the opening period Friday.
Carolina had 16 scoring chances to the Rangers’ none in the first, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. The Rangers had four shots in the period and none dangerous.
Both teams have back-to-back sets to complete. The Canes have a road game against the New Jersey Devils in another Metro game and the Rangers host the Arizona Coyotes.