Canes Whisk Rangers Broom, Force Game 5

AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker

The ol’ adage that the fourth win in a best of seven series is the hardest to get was what the Rangers experienced last night in Raleigh.

Former Ranger Brady Skjei beat Igor Shesterkin top shelf with a one timer for the game winning goal with 3:11 left in the third period as the Carolina Hurricanes stayed alive with a 4-3 win at PNC Arena. The Rangers still lead the series, 3-1 with game 5 at the Garden on Monday night.

Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves while his counterpart, Frederik Andersen stopped 22 shots and got an assist from the goalposts as the Rangers struck iron a couple of times in this one.

The Rangers had denied the Hurricanes in 16 previous times with the man advantage but you couldn’t expect them to be perfect against a team that has a top notch power play, so it seemed to be just a matter of time before they would get one. Ryan Lindgren was called for tripping with 3:43 left in the third period and the Hurricanes went to work.

Teuvo Teravainen had the puck on the left wing side and passed to Skjei at the point. The former Ranger defenseman fired the one timer to score his first goal of the playoffs.

They took a shot from the point, he [Skjei] hammered it, it had eyes” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “It was a top corner shot, traffic in front of the net. There was a lot going on there.”

Seth Jarvis was in front and may have distracted Shesterkin with his stick, but the Ranger goalie who had been fabulous in the first three games, gave up more than three goals in a playoff game for the first time since May 9, 2022 against the Pittsburgh Penguins when he gave up six.

With their season on the line, the Hurricanes wasted no time in gaining the lead as Evgeny Kuznetsov scored an unassisted goal less than two minutes into the first period.

The former Washington Capital, who was acquired at the trade deadline, skated into the offensive zone and used Jacob Trouba as a screen to fire the puck past Shesterkin for a 1-0 lead 1:51 into the first period.

Stefan Noesen scored off a rebound at 6:33 to give Carolina a 2-0 lead but the Rangers cut the lead in half less than two minutes later thanks to the third line which had an outstanding game.

Kappo Kakko head manned a beautiful feed to a streaking Will Cuylle who got behind the ‘Canes defense to beat Andersen for his first career playoff goal at 8:06 of the first period and the Rangers trailed 2-1.

Later in the period, Carolina restored their two goal lead. Jake Guentzel was open on the left side and found Sebastian Aho who was wide open and one timed it from the slot to make it 3-1 after one.

We dug ourselves a hole early,” Laviolette said. “We gotta come out a little bit sharper than that. We were competing, we were working, we were trying to do our job offensively but there’s some things defensively that I thought we could’ve been a little bit better in the first period.”

The Rangers narrowed the gap in the second period when Barclay Goodrow deflected a Daniel Schneider shot from the point past Andersen with 7:17 left in the second period. Goodrow’s second goal of the playoffs was a big one as it put the Rangers down one heading into the third period, where they have flourished so far in the post season.

The Rangers Alex Wennberg and Alexis Lafreniere were two of the players who hit the post, but the former #1 pick is thriving in the playoffs and he tied the game at 2:04 of the third period.

Lafreniere took a cross ice feed from Mika Zibanejad and moved past the goal line but he was able to back hand the puck off the back of Andersen to tie the game at three. Lafreniere now has four goals in his last three games and is showing the dynamic play making ability that made him the top overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft.

The Rangers were not only fighting the opposition, they were fighting the odds of keeping Carolina scoreless with numerous power play attempts and the odds of sweeping two consecutive playoff series.

Obviously our penalty kill’s been very good, it’s a tough time to give up the first one but nothing we can do now,” said Goodrow.Just regroup and come back on Monday.”

Game 4, like the previous three, could’ve gone either way, but it will be up to the Rangers to not allow Carolina up off the canvas in game 5 at the Garden or the pressure will really begin to mount.

We would’ve loved to be able to win this game here and move on but they’re not going to go down too easy,” Adam Fox said. “Regroup, obviously learn from our mistakes and try to get that win on home ice.”

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