The Carolina Hurricanes lost their home invincibility screen at the wrong time and the New York Rangers managed to break through that wall that had seemed unstoppable since the start of the playoffs to take Game 7 honors and reach the Eastern Association final.
The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 6-2 on Monday and will now face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.
New York rallied from a two-game deficit to finally reclaim this series honors.
Things have by no means gone in favor of the Hurricanes who have been able since the opening of the playoffs to block off the neutral zone to slow down opponents. This time, the team made up in part by the Montreal Canadiens’ new vice president of hockey operations, Jeff Gorton, seized their opportunities to advance to the next round.
Chris Kreider led the Rangers attack with two goals while Mika Zibanejad had three assists.
The game was played in two parts for the Hurricanes who had not lost a single playoff game this season in seven home games. The first half was marked by Canes’ indiscipline, allowing Rangers to score twice to quickly put the hosts under pressure.
“We fought well and Igor Shesterkin was true to form by excelling in front of his net. We were able to capitalize on the power play at the beginning of the game with two goals and it was difficult for them to recover that advantage”, underlined Gerard Gallant.
Adam Fox first beat Antti Raanta at 3:40 in the first period on a power play while Sebastian Aho was in the dungeon. Fox scored on a wrist shot from the side of the glove. Quebecer Alexis Lafrenière racked up an assist in the sequence.
“We have a very united team. We care about each other and I think that can make a difference in crucial games. We put everything on the ice to keep our season alive,” Fox said after the game.
Jacob Trouba claimed another casualty for the Hurricanes when he hit Seth Jarvis hard at 12:25 of the first period. Stunned, Jarvis returned to his bench, moving to his knees. In the sequence Carolina was penalized for having too many men on the ice. Jarvis left and didn’t come back afterward.
This check led to a penalty that was decisive in the outcome of the match as Chris Kreider wasted no time in deflecting the puck into the enemy goal at 8:00 a.m. from a pass from Mika Zibanejad and thus added his in advance.
“Jacob Trouba’s physical game gives us energy. You tend to only remember certain shots that he took, but he does a lot of little things that don’t show up on the score sheet, but are important at this point in the season,” Fox said of his teammate.
The Hurricanes tried to rejoin the game, but lost the services of their goalkeeper Antti Raanta at 15:37 of the second period. The goalkeeper appeared to have injured his groin as he moved to the right and left the game never to return.
The Rangers scrambled to test Raanta’s successor, Pyotr Kochetkov, who was quickly outclassed by Ryan Strome, who hit him with a blow to the wrist from the side of the glove, nothing to boost morale between the Hurricanes.
In the third period, Kreider ended Carolina’s hopes with a superb goal. He beat Kochetkov with a backhand after grabbing the puck in the neutral zone from a Frank Vatrano pass and got past defender Jaccob Slavin by cutting in front of the net to put the puck into the goal.
Tony DeAngelo gave Hurricanes fans some hope with a goal at 8:11 of the third when he beat goalkeeper Igor Shesterkin, but only 40 seconds later., Filip Chytil dropped Carolina by capitalizing on a turnover in the offensive zone to beat Kochetkov and restore Rangers’ four-goal lead.
Max Domi hit the mark late in the third when the game was already out of Carolina’s reach. Andrew Copp then added an empty net goal.
“It’s difficult for me, because we were in a different position this year. Not necessarily that we were better than the others, but we had a good group,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
With an assist, Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller became the fourth defenseman age 22 or younger to record a point in more than a seventh game. He joins Kevin Hatcher (WSH in 1988), Michael Del Zotto (NYR in 2012) and Colton Parayko (STL in 2016).
“We played the best game of our playoffs. All players are answered present for this last match. We weren’t perfect, but we found a way to win. This has been the case since the beginning of the season,” added Gallant.
Jacob Trouba hits Seth Jarvis hard
Lindgren print by Niederreiter
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