How the Hurricanes rallied to force a Game 6 with the Rangers: 5 takeaways


NEW YORK — The Rangers aren’t making this easy on themselves.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s rebound goal at 6:39 of the third period was part of a four-goal outburst in the final frame. Carolina’s 4-1 win sent this second-round series back to Raleigh for Thursday’s Game 6.

Jacob Trouba’s shorthanded goal in the second period was the lone goal in an evenly played first 40 minutes and the Rangers killed off an early Carolina third-period power play to put the finish line of the series within sight. But Jordan Staal, Carolina’s captain, made a move around Braden Schneider and then another one around Igor Shesterkin to tie the game 3:33 into the third.

On the eventual winner, Brady Skjei let loose a big drive that Shesterkin turned aside. But Kuznetsov beat Artemi Panarin to the rebound for his second goal in as many games to give Carolina the lead. Jordan Martinook added another at 9:56 and the Canes left the Garden crowd stunned, hoping to return here for what would be an improbable Game 7 on Saturday.

Canes plumbers come to play again

It wasn’t Carolina’s big-name guys but instead a collection of wily old vets who helped the Canes stay alive. Staal, playing in his 141st career playoff game, made the play on the first Carolina goal, driving the net for a nice move around Shesterkin when his Hurricanes had been going side to side and looking for space most of the night.

And Kuznetsov, firmly entrenched as the fourth-line center this postseason, came up with another big goal as he did in opening the Game 4 scoring. It’s no coincidence that Staal and Kuznetsov are the only two Canes players with Stanley Cup rings.

Martinook, who had a huge goal in Carolina’s comeback to beat the Islanders in Game 2, then sealed it.

Jacob Trouba rebounds

Trouba had what you could generously describe as a tough Game 4 when he was on for all four Carolina goals and got caught roaming the neutral zone before Sebastian Aho’s goal made it 3-1 late in the first period on Saturday.

But the Rangers didn’t name him captain prior to last season for nothing. In a Game 5 that required more defensive-zone fortitude than offensive flair, Trouba was much steadier. He even found time to throw a big open-ice hit in the opening period, knocking down Jack Drury to roars from the Garden crowd.

But the real roars came in the second on Carolina’s first power play of the game. He blocked an Aho one-timer at the top of the right circle, chipped it around Aho after the Canes center slipped and started a two-on-one with Barclay Goodrow. Brady Skjei played the pass and Seth Jarvis raced back, but Trouba still snapped one low past Andersen’s right pad for the Rangers’ second shorthanded goal of the series and fourth in nine playoff games.

It was also just the second goal by a Rangers defenseman in the postseason — and they’ve both come shorthanded, with K’Andre Miller’s shorty coming in Game 2 against the Caps.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Lazerus: Game 4 thriller plants seed of hope in Hurricanes, seed of doubt in Rangers

A rare collapse

The Rangers were 34-3-2 when leading after two periods in the regular season. But strange things happen in the pressure of the playoffs, especially with the opponent facing elimination.

The Rangers had done a lot of good things to thwart Carolina through 40 minutes, including 21 shot blocks and making sure they had a forward covering the weak side whenever the Canes threw a puck on Shesterkin. That’s a staple of Carolina’s offense.

But the one time the Canes beat the Rangers to a weak-side rebound it cost them. Panarin didn’t have position on Kuznetsov and the game turned.

Heading back to Raleigh for Thursday’s Game 6 signifies a potentially bigger collapse, of course.

Special teams

The Rangers’ shorthanded goal was the only special-teams marker of Game 5 and it seemed to be a good omen, given that Carolina’s power play dropped to 1-for-20 for the series. But it was the Rangers’ 0-for-3 night on the power play that also stood out — the Rangers had five shots on Freddie Andersen on their three opportunities but nothing terribly dangerous.

With some special-teams momentum on the PK the last two games, Carolina might be starting to feel itself a little bit. That can counteract whatever power-play failures Carolina has had so far.

There was some good news on Monday morning in the form of Filip Chytil being back on the ice with his teammates at the Rangers morning skate. He skated without restrictions after missing Game 4 with what the Rangers termed an illness but he stayed on the ice at the team’s practice facility for extra work, essentially ruling him out for Game 5.

It was still encouraging given Chytil’s concussion history and worries that his return to action in Game 3 might have produced some delayed symptoms that arose the next morning.

Jonny Brodzinski got most of the morning reps with Jimmy Vesey and Goodrow in the spot Brodzinski played in Game 4, but it was fan favorite Matt Rempe who got the call on Monday, eliciting cheers from the Garden crowd every time he stepped on the ice. Which, as expected, was rarely, but Rempe acquitted himself well once again in Game 5.

Blake Wheeler also shed his no-contact red sweater for the first time as a full participant on Monday morning.

“Everybody was out there for practice,” Peter Laviolette said. “That’s a real positive thing.”

(Top photo of Jordan Martinook: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)





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