The New York Rangers could not capitalize on the multiple power plays given them as they fall to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in the opening qualifying game of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. They now trail 1-0 in the best-of-five series.
Shesterkin sits out the first New York Rangers first playoff game
Igor Shesterkin was deemed unfit to play prior to puck drop, according to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. The NHL does usually require teams to give very little information on injuries. Shesterkin was seen sitting in the stands and it was reported during the game broadcast that he should be available for Monday’s game.
That means that the start went to Henrik Lundqvist, who went 3-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage against Carolina this season.
The first bit of game action took less than a period as tempers flared between the Carolina and the Rangers, with 38-year-old Canes veteran Justin Williams dropping the gloves with Ryan Strome.
The game did not start well as the Hurricanes scored the first two goals, courtesy of Jaccob Slavin and Sebastian Aho. The Blueshirts were very sluggish in the first period, being outshot 21-4. The Rangers responded in the second period with a Mika Zibanejad goal.
The Hurricanes regained their two-goal advantage midway through the third period as a Vincent Trochek deflected off Marc Staal‘s skates.
The Blueshirts pulled within one with just under two minutes left in the game, in an unlikely situation of killing a penalty when Staal punched a shot past Petr Mrazek.
After killing the penalty, the Rangers pulled Lundqvist out of the net for an extra skater but could not score.
The biggest storyline of the game was the lack of efficiency on the power play as the Blueshirts could not score on any of the seven penalties that the Hurricanes took in the first two periods, being only able to muster only eight shots in all. The Hurricanes also outshot the Rangers 37-26, and their scoring chances were much better overall.
Also, forward Jesper Fast exited in the first period and did not return when he took a heavy hit from former teammate Brady Skjei and headed straight to the dressing room.
In his post-game comments, head coach David Quinn said about the Ranger’s play: “I thought for the first 30 minutes of the game we were slow, they (Carolina) set the tempo and we took to long to respond to it.”
Quinn also thought that the Rangers needed to be tougher in front of the net. “We got to find a way to get more inside, we were too perimeter. We have to be tough, and tough means that we have to get the net and get inside of people.”
The teams play game 2 of the series at noon on Monday.