Rapid Reaction: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 1

Following a decisive shutout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, the New York Rangers laid an egg in Carolina with a 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

It was a head-scratching, uninspired effort for the Rangers, who did little to test Canes netminder Cam Ward and did plenty to allow Carolina some quality chances in their own end.

Both Jiri Tlusty and Jordan Staal recorded a goal and an assist apiece, while Ward picked up his first win since Dec. 31.

Tuesday’s defeat is one the Blueshirts will be eager to forget as they enter a back-to-back set against Minnesota and Winnipeg beginning Thursday.

Meanwhile, Lundqvist’s quest to tie Mike Richter’s franchise record of 301 wins will have to wait, as he was saddled with the loss amidst the team’s abysmal performance.

What it means: New York is one of those teams that is still puzzling people heading into the last month of the season. Is it one that could potentially play spoiler in the postseason against Eastern Conference titans such as the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Boston Bruins? Or are they simply just another one of the many mediocre, inconsistent teams jockeying for position among the middle of the pack in the standings? Tuesday night, they certainly looked to be the latter, with a dreadful effort against the Canes.

Family reunion: With defenseman Marc Staal facing his brothers Eric and Jordan on Tuesday night, it begs the question: Will he consider heading to Carolina to play alongside his siblings down the road? The 27-year-old defenseman, who has bounced back after being hampered by injuries the previous two seasons, will be an unrestricted free agent in July 2015. That is, if he makes it that far. If he wishes to remain in the Big Apple, the Rangers will want to avoid the type of protracted contract negotiations with the team’s pending UFAs from this season: Lundqvist, defenseman Dan Girardi and Ryan Callahan, who was ultimately traded at the deadline last week. If Staal has a desire to play alongside his brothers (and really, who could blame him for that?) the Rangers will need to consider the possibility of a trade with Carolina.

Understated move: For as much buzz that the Rangers’ shocking deadline trade garnered -- fans are still processing the swap of Ryan Callahan for Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis -- one earlier deal has gone largely unnoticed. But just because general manager Glen Sather’s move to acquire veteran defenseman Kevin Klein wasn’t nearly as big as a splash doesn’t mean it wasn’t a shrewd one. In fact, Klein, who recorded his first goal as a Ranger on Tuesday night, is proving himself to be a very valuable asset. The 29-year-old Klein has been steady on the backhand and has provided the Rangers with some much-needed depth on the back end. It also helps that he has four years left on a five-year, $14.5 million deal, especially if the Rangers are unable to get pending unrestricted free agent Anton Stralman under contract before July 1. The New York Post reported this weekend that the fellow right-handed defenseman recently spurned a three-year contract offer from the club.