RALEIGH, N.C. -- With time slipping away, the New York Rangers appeared destined for a long night by the television, hoping some other team would put them into the postseason.
Then came one timely bounce off the boards, and another off a post. Just like that, the Rangers pushed themselves back into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Captain Ryan Callahan scored 2:55 into overtime, and New York rallied to clinch a third straight playoff berth by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on Thursday night.
Brad Richards tied it for the Rangers with 2:57 left in regulation after New York blew an early 2-0 lead and fell behind already-eliminated Carolina.
"We just kept on playing, scored an ugly one, and couldn’t be more fitting than the guy who scored the winner," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Funny how the hockey gods work in these type of situations."
Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard staked the Rangers to the lead in the first period, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 18 shots for New York, the second New York team this week to clinch a playoff spot on Carolina’s ice.
The Rangers jumped over the rival Islanders -- who did it Tuesday night -- and moved 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.
"There’s times that we haven’t worked for our bounces," Ellis said. "Tonight I think we did work for our bounces and we just got one against us."
All of a sudden, the Rangers had hope.
"We know that we’re right there to get that next point and advance in the playoffs," Callahan said.
He took care of that himself, ending it by scooping up the puck by the boards, skating in on Ellis and snapping it toward the far side. The puck glanced off the post on its way in and sent the Rangers spilling onto the ice in celebration.
"That was just a sick play from start to finish," Lundqvist said, "and it’s a good thing to see your captain put it home and put us in the playoffs."
It capped a remarkable reversal after the Hurricanes led for most of the third period.
"We could be a team that just goes out there and just finishes up these last few games, but the respect of the league and everything, we’re going out to win every game," Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. "Our guys went out and did that."