The Rangers have been a resilient team all year long. They’re going to have to dip into that resilience well once again.
Ian Cole’s shot deflected off Ryan Lindgren and past Igor Shesterkin at 3:12 of overtime as the Rangers took a punch to the gut with a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in game one of their second round series.
The Rangers began the playoffs with a triple overtime loss at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins and managed to rebound from a three games to one deficit to win in seven.
This series is going to be a little more difficult but head coach Gerard Gallant’s team is in familiar territory, being down one game to none after an overtime loss. “We’re definitely disappointed tonight. Upset, we tried to get out of here, go up 1-0, but that’s the way hockey goes,” Gallant said. “You battle back, you get ready for the next one and hopefully we’ll come away with a win.”
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal by Filip Chytil. Alexis LaFreniere stole the puck from former Ranger Tony DeAngelo and broke in on left wing on a three on two. LaFreniere passed to Chytil in the slot who fired it past Hurricanes goaltender (and former Ranger) Antii Raanta for the lead.
The Rangers played very well in the first two periods, but in the third, Carolina took their game up a notch.
The Hurricanes outshot the Rangers 10-4 in the third period and were credited with 11 scoring chances as opposed to four for the Blueshirts. “In the third period, they had a real good cycle game going. They come up with a lot of energy,” Gallant said.
With over seven minutes remaining in the third period, Carolina’s Nino Niederreiter had a breakaway but he hit the cross bar. With under three minutes remaining, the cross bar was Shesterkin’s best friend when Sebastian Aho clanged one off of it and it appeared that this was going to be the Rangers’ night
The relentless pressure paid off when Aho scored to tie it with 2:23 left and send the sellout crowd at PNC Arena into a frenzy. Shesterskin made 24 saves including Aho’s original back hand shot, but the Ranger goaltender couldn’t snare the rebound and the Hurricanes’ center was able to put it in the net for the tying goal that demoralized the Blueshirts.
In the overtime, the Hurricanes continued to control the play as the Rangers were only able to generate one shot on goal in the extra session, before it ended on Cole’s goal. “That’s a really good team we’re playing, let’s not forget about that,” said Mika Zibanejad, who was a minus-one and was not good on face offs (6-11).
Raanta made 27 saves but only five of those came in the third period and overtime. “I think we have to make a little more traffic in front of him [Raanta] score these goals, what was working for us in the last three games what we were playing against Pittsburgh,” Chytil said.
Rangers were 0 for 1 on the power play and have 20 opportunities overall in their eight playoff games. This was also the third playoff game where the Rangers had only one opportunity with the man advantage.
The Rangers are a confident bunch and they believe in themselves. “We would like to score more goals but at the same time we controlled the play,” Zibanejad said. “We did a lot of good things. We get those chances again, I’m sure we’ll score a couple of more.”
Chytil is starting to show his stuff in these playoffs and is already sounding like a veteran. “We’ve been in this position so we just have to keep our heads up,” said the 22-year old center who has upped his game in the post season.
Game two is Friday night. Stay tuned.