In what was most likely the New York Rangers’ most significant game in the last 5 years, a 3-1 loss now forces a must-win on Saturday night.
The New York Rangers failed to score an even-strength goal for the second consecutive road game of this series and went on to lose 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C.
The Hurricanes lead the series 3-2 and will have a chance to eliminate the Rangers Saturday night at MSG.
Blueshirts head coach Gerrard Gallant said all that needed to be said of the club’s worse performance in this round and perhaps all season long.
““I didn’t think we played our game at all. I thought we were reaching with sticks all night instead of finishing checks with the body like we did the other nights. To me, it was the worst game in the five games so far in this series. They pretty well dominated that game tonight.”
Managing only 17 shots in goal in the game, seven in the third period, Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta was never tested or faced a high-quality shot aside from the Mika Zibanejad power-play goal midway through the first period.
The struggles became apparent early on as the team could not complete a pass out of their own end for much of the first period. Added to the equation that the team was a step or two behind the Hurricanes all night and it became apparent the Ranger’s only way out of Raleigh would be if their goalkeeper could steal a win.
It didn’t work out for Shesterkin and his teammates.
The Rangers were tied 1-1 entering the second period and thought he had taken a 2-1 lead when Ryan Strome scored. The play was reviewed and determined to be offside. With the goal taken off of the scoreboard, the Hurricanes put on a ton of offensive pressure and scored a power-play goal by Teuvo Teravaniev which gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.
It was the first power-play goal off Round 2 for the Hurricanes.
Ryan Strome talked about the overturned goal decision and subsequent power play that gave the Hurricanes a second-period lead, “Obviously, things happen quick out there. Unfortunate, but that’s the way the game is, a rule is a rule. Unfortunately, they got the power-play goal after that, but that’s how close these game[s] are, right?
The Hurricanes remained undefeated at home in these playoffs outscoring both the Boston Bruins and Rangers 25-8 at the PNC Arena. Rangers forward Chris Kreider isn’t looking towards a Game 7 in Carolina yet recognizing the team needs to win Game 6 first.
“We’ve got to win one game,” Rangers forward Chris Kreider said. “That’s our focus. It’s a little cliché, but there are a lot of things we can take from that game and do a better job of. Learn from that and win one game. Win the first shift, win the first period, and go from there.”
In order to win Game 6, the Ranger’s top players are going to have to find a way to get involved in the game. Frank Vatrano, Chris Kreider, and Mika Zibanejad totaled just two shots. Artemi Panarin played another subpar game filled with turnovers and bad decisions had zero shots and Andrew Copp had just two.
The Rangers have faced elimination three times already in this playoffs. If they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to play against a resting Tampa Bay Lightning they will have to do something they have become accustomed to, coming back to win a series.
This team had 25 comeback wins in the regular season and another three in the first round. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to do it again now.
In order for that to happen Gerrard Gallant needs to adjust to what the Hurricanes are doing, and the players need to play the way they did in games 3 and 4 last week at the Garden.