How the Rangers took charge of Game 1 and held on against the Hurricanes: 5 takeaways

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NEW YORK — The Rangers jumped out early and held on late to take a 4-3 win over the Hurricanes in Game 1 of their second-round series at Madison Square Garden.

Seth Jarvis brought Carolina within a goal with 1:45 go and the Canes net empty, scoring off a scramble in front of Igor Shesterkin. Carolina’s offense had been quiet much of the game but the Canes poured on the pressure with Frederik Andersen on the bench for a sixth skater and Jarvis found a loose puck to make the final stretch a chaotic one.

It got more chaotic when Vincent Trocheck was called for delay of game with 40.5 seconds to go after batting the puck over the glass with his glove. But Andrei Svechnikov was whistled for tripping Ryan Lindgren off the ensuing faceoff and the Rangers held on.

Artemi Panarin squeaked one through Andersen to restore the Rangers’ two-goal lead at 8:21 of the third, a stoppable shot that took the wind out of Carolina’s sails after it had pulled within a goal 5:33 earlier.

Martin Necas cut the Rangers lead to 3-2 on a nice rush through the middle with 17:12 to go in the third. He caught Jordan Martinook’s pass in perfect stride across the Ranger line and beat Shesterkin low.

The first period wasn’t quite all Rangers but it was certainly close to it for the home team. Mika Zibanejad scored his first just 2:46 in when Jack Roslovic found him alone in front. Both Canes defensemen went behind the net and no one took Zibanejad.

Jaccob Slavin tied it 1:02 later with a slap shot that ticked off Alexis Lafrenière’s stick, bounced off the ice and sailed high over Shesterkin’s shoulder. The Hurricanes hit two posts in the first, one by Brady Skjei and one by Necas, but the Rangers were the better team, disrupting Carolina’s speed before it could even get started.

And of course the special teams made a difference, with the Rangers converting twice on the power play, needing a total of 23 seconds to convert. Zibanejad scored his second just nine seconds into the first advantage and Trocheck scored after Zibanejad misfired on a hat-trick try just 14 seconds into the next one.

Very special teams for Rangers

You wouldn’t have believed that both the Rangers and Canes had top-four power plays and penalty kills this season based on Game 1. The Rangers carved up Carolina’s excellent PK, needing just nine and 14 seconds to convert on their two first-period opportunities. The Canes had their best looks of the evening on their four power plays, with Igor Shesterkin coming up strong and his penalty killers attacking Carolina out high to keep the Canes from funneling pucks and bodies down low.

Carolina converted a couple of power plays off the rush in its first-round series win over the Islanders, but the Rangers were far too active to allow the Canes into the zone with speed outside of one Necas try in the first that clicked off the post. Carolina’s power play can feel OK about its near-misses. Its penalty kill, though, has some work to do.

Zibanejad’s PPG nine seconds into the Rangers’ first advantage was picture perfect: All five Rangers on the top unit touched the puck, drawing the Canes’ aggressive PKers out of position in very short order before Zibanejad buried a no-look feed from Chris Kreider on a set play Rangers fans have seen often but apparently was a bit of a shock to Carolina.

The Canes over-committed to the slot on Trocheck on the next power play, again leaving Zibanejad open before Trocheck finished off the play down low. Everyone knew how impactful the Rangers power play could be this series. The way it turned Game 1 was even more impactful than anticipated.

Ranger fans still have strong feelings about Tony DeAngelo, who definitely seemed ready to play the villain role to the hilt in Game 1.

DeAngelo threw a high, hard hit on Will Cuylle in the first period that warranted a consultation between the on-ice officials at the NHL’s Situation Room to see if the hit deserved a major penalty. DeAngelo caught Cuylle in the head but with his shoulder and didn’t stick any part of his arm out to make contact, so the call was a two-minute roughing minor.

That didn’t matter much to the Garden crowd, which was already booing DeAngelo the first time he touched the puck on Sunday. DeAngelo was a polarizing Ranger from 2017-21 inside and outside of the locker room; his final act was being part of a postgame altercation with then-Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who took a swing at DeAngelo after the defenseman chided him following an overtime loss to the Penguins.

DeAngelo is only in the Carolina lineup due to Brett Pesce’s absence, but he’s trying to make the most of it. DeAngelo, who jawed with Matt Rempe after the first period ended, surfed deep into the Rangers zone in the second to try and throw another hard hit. After that one, the Garden made its feelings plain with this chant:

“—- you, Tony!”

Mika May in full effect

Zibanejad may have had a substandard (for him) regular season with 72 points, but he continued his torrid postseason with a three-point first period that could have easily been a four-goal first.

He was in the right place to receive Jack Roslovic’s feed from behind the Canes net — and Teuvo Teravainen was nowhere to be found as the low forward in the D zone for Carolina — to open the scoring at 2:46. At 10:05 he was again in the right spot, cutting down from his left-circle power-play station, to receive Chris Kreider’s no-look feed for another slam dunk to restore the Rangers lead.

On Trocheck’s power-play goal to make it 3-1, Zibanejad took a nice short feed from Trocheck but fumbled the move from forehand to backhand as he had room to beat Andersen. The puck may not have bounced well for Zibanejad but it did for the Rangers as it went right to Trocheck for a backhand sweep home.

And in the final minute of the first, Zibanejad got a little too unselfish. The Canes couldn’t execute a clean zone exit and the puck got flipped down to Zibanejad all alone with Andersen; he made a move, then surprisingly tried a drop pass for Artemi Panarin with the Canes hustling back into the play.

Even so, Zibanejad became the third NHLer to crack the 10-point barrier in the playoffs, joining Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Bottom six forwards sharp for Rangers

They didn’t end up on the score sheet but the Rangers’ third and fourth lines were probably their best at 5v5 on Game 1 — and better than most of Carolina’s forwards too.

The Cuylle-Alex Wennberg–Kaapo Kakko line had half a dozen strong shifts and the Jimmy Vesey–Barclay Goodrow-Rempe line played up the ice a lot. You might have thought the 6-foot-8 Rempe would have had trouble keeping up the pace against a very fast Canes team, but his physicality had an impact on Sunday and his line was grinding better than Carolina’s collection of capable grinders.

Canes’ shot-heavy offense quiet for most of it

Carolina prides itself on firing pucks on net from everywhere but the Canes had just 14 shots on goal as the game reached the final seven minutes, when they started firing more pucks on Shesterkin to generate something while down two.

The Rangers stayed very disciplined in shooting lanes in Game 1, blocking 29 shots. They were also disciplined in their defensive-zone structure, denying Carolina’s desire to get bodies trafficking through the slot to disrupt Shesterkin’s sight lines and create scrambles for puck retrievals and rebounds. Carolina did hit a couple posts in the first but at five on five the Canes’ attack was sporadic at best — the Rangers were also alert up the ice in passing lanes to keep the Canes’ speedy forwards from pushing the Rangers back off the rush.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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