It’s not a series until the home team loses a game, and the New York Rangers certainly echoed that sentiment this afternoon as they cut the series deficit to 2-1. The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 3 with the Garden crowd fully behind them, and carried that momentum throughout the game. Carolina was able to cut into the Rangers’ lead midway through the second period, but New York never wavered on the defensive side of the puck.
Mika Zibanejad (4) - Artemiy Panarin (5) & Adam Fox (8) PPG - 11:54
The Rangers’ power play has been a downright embarrassment thus far in the series, but they found a way to right the ship this afternoon. Former Ranger Brady Skjei gave the Rangers the man-advantage after he hauled down Mika Zibanejad behind Carolina’s net. It took the Rangers a few chances to get setup in the offensive zone, but once they did, two quick passes carved up the Hurricanes. The final pass across by Artemiy Panarin was about as perfect as it could get, and Zibanejad finished it off with a quick wrister on the short side.
Chris Kreider (6) - Mika Zibanejad (9) & Jacob Trouba (3) - 5:55
Early in the second period, Mika Zibanejad put the Rangers on his back again with two sneaky plays down below Carolina’s goal line. The first stick lift behind the net kept the play alive in favor of the Rangers, otherwise the puck likely clears the zone without it. Chris Kreider was able to gain control of the puck as he swung around the far side of the net, and as Zibanejad transitioned to the front of the net, he lifted Tony DeAngelo’s stick. DeAngelo had his back turned, and wound up loosing his stick as a result of the check. That gave Kreider enough room to step into a shooting lane, and blast a snap shot under the crossbar.
Nino Niederreiter (4) - Jordan Staal (4) & Brendan Smith (3) - 8:18
The Rangers appeared to be in pretty good control of the game with a two-goal lead, and then Carolina stunned the crowd with a seemingly harmless shot. Nino Niederreiter was able to beat the Rangers into the offensive zone with speed, and had a two steps on Zibanejad as he attempted a cut towards the net. However, the Rangers had enough layered coverage where Niederreiter was no immediate threat. A quick backhand by Niederreiter appeared to fool Igor Shesterkin from just inside the faceoff circle, and the puck just barely trickled over the goal line. It was a tough goal to give up at that point in the game, but it didn’t seem to affect Shesterkin.
Tyler Motte (1) - Unassisted - 18:37
With under two minutes remaining in the game, and Antti Raanta on the bench, the Rangers did a great job of locking down the defensive zone. Chris Kreider had a golden opportunity to ice the game a few moments prior, but he completely galaxy brained a shot attempt, and soared the puck wide on the empty net. It seemed destined that the Hurricanes were going to tie the game as a result, but Tyler Motte redeemed Kreider with an empty netter of his own from the far end of the ice.
Game 3 was still close in terms of the goals, but the Rangers found a way to open up the offense a little bit more on home ice. Aside from the fluke goal against, Igor Shesterkin was a monster in this game, and turned aside 43 of the 44 shots he faced. It certainly looked bleak heading back home down 0-2, but the Rangers gave themselves a chance in this series with a huge win. We’ll see if they can make it two in a row on Tuesday night.