Recap: Abysmal Third Period Costs Rangers Game 5

There’s no way to sugar coat it, the Rangers played an incredibly uninspired, uncharacteristic third period which resulted in them giving up four unanswered goals to bring the series back to Raleigh. Before we relive the misery here, a couple of pregame notes that led to the lone roster change: Filip Chytil, who missed Game 4 with an illness is feeling better but in addition to the illness, is dealing with some soreness which held him out again tonight. Honestly, good for the Rangers being extra cautious with him. This led to Matt Rempe replacing Jonny Brodzinski on the fourth line however, some more good news on the injury front: Blake Wheeler is officially back to being a full-participant in practice. With that, let’s recap a game we already all want to forget. 

1st Period:

The Rangers got off to a strong start in Game 5, controlling the puck through the first few shifts, generating some offensive zone possession. As the two sides settled in, the Rangers were starting to roll with seven straight shot attempts in a row however a flurry of chances from Carolina quickly followed. From that moment on, it was lots of back and forth through the opening twenty. With Rempe back in the lineup, the fourth line had some really strong shifts in both ends of the ice. Rempe in particular was a huge part of not only keeping the puck in the offensive zone, but moving it out of their own end, coming up with a huge blocked shot along the way. 

The fourth line wasn’t the only one showing up early for the Rangers as the third line nearly had one on a strong shift right after the midway point of the period. Will Cuylle continued to have some jump in his game with Wennberg and Kakko staying strong on the puck. Outside of that, it wasn’t the most eventful period. The high danger chances were tied at four with Carolina’s best opportunity coming on a Jake Guentzel breakaway that required an enormous save from Igor Shesterkin. 

With just about two minutes to go in the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov made what could have been an extremely costly mistake. In the midst of a strong shift from Carolina, Kuznetsov took a careless offensive zone penalty for slashing Erik Gustafsson, sending the Rangers to the first power play of the night. This could have been a massive breaking point in the game but the Rangers had another brutal showing on the man advantage. Coming off Game 4 where the power play was at its worst, they continued to struggle to gain the zone and get anything set up here in the first. 

The end of the period would bring the power play to an end, leaving the score locked at zeros after the first twenty minutes. Shots were tied 9-9 with the Rangers winning all but two face-offs to start the game. On top of faceoffs, the Rangers were out-hitting the Hurricanes 14-6 but all things considered, there was plenty of room for this game to open up. 

2nd Period:

It was a slower start to the third period but after three and a half minutes, the Rangers were headed back to the power play. Dmitry Orlov threw a high hit to Adam Fox in the neutral zone which sent him off for roughing. Another abysmal start to the Rangers power play that saw some possession but not enough to capitalize. It also wouldn’t help that Brent Burns broke his stick over Mika Zibanejad’s back with a cross-check that naturally went unnoticed by the officials. 

Less than ten seconds after the teams returned to even strength, the Hurricanes would get their first crack at the power play as Jack Roslovic took down Jack Drury with a trip. Thankfully, the Rangers still had it on the penalty kill despite their power play struggling and sure enough, it would help them find the first goal of the night. Jacob Trouba, who we’ve all been extremely critical of as of late, made a great play to block a shot at the Hurricanes point. Following which, Trouba took the puck out of the zone himself and had an odd man rush with Barclay Goodrow on his left. Opting for the shot, Trouba snuck one past Freddie Anderson for a massive short handed goal, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. 

The Rangers killed off the rest of the penalty and right at the midway point of the game, would head back to the penalty kill. Adam Fox got tangled up with Jesperi Kotkaniemi in front of the Rangers net which resulted in a holding penalty. From the Trouba goal on, the Rangers were struggling to get their offense going again but thankfully, they continued to get help from the penalty killers as well as from Igor Shesterkin who came up with another massive save right in the slot on a chance from Jack Drury. 

The period would end with another penalty as Will Cuylle leg-tripped Sebastian Aho at the end of a long shift. The Hurricanes out-shot the Rangers 9-6 in the second but Jacob Trouba’s efforts on the penalty kill were the difference maker through the first forty. In addition to that, Mika Zibanejad was having an outstanding night in face-offs, often against Carolina’s best in Jordan Staal. With the one goal lead and a period to go, the Rangers had to stay the course and take care of business in the final twenty. 

3rd Period:

Frankly, this very well might be the most disappointing twenty minutes of Rangers hockey in quite some time. Despite having the lead, the Rangers were far from a position to just sit back and chew time. Three and a half minutes in, Jordan Staal outworks the Rangers at the end of a long shift, walks right in and beats Shesterkin with a great individual effort, 1-1. 

About three minutes later, Evgeny Kuznetsov puts away a Brady Skjei rebound the Rangers failed to do anything with to find the back of the net. 2-1. That right there should have been the moment where the Rangers woke up and found another gear but somehow, it was the opposite. This team had nothing. Absolutely nothing to show for and it led to an ugly scene. 

Right around the midway point of the third, Jordan Martinook converted off yet another defensive zone breakdown to make it 3-1. This shift in a nutshell is exactly where the Rangers have been falling apart in the last two games. They’re playing way too lackadaisical in their own end, looking to make a far more complicated play to clear the zone, lacking any and all urgency in the process. Against a team that is fighting for their ability to stay alive in this postseason, that’s just not going to fly by any means. 

The Hurricanes took a delay of game penalty shortly after giving the Rangers a timely man advantage but if it wasn’t already clear, the power play had gone ice cold and couldn’t do anything. Down 3-1 with eight minutes to go, things were not looking good and the Rangers just couldn’t find it. With close to four minutes left, they pulled Shesterkin for the extra attacker and almost immediately, Martin Necas sent it sailing down center into the gaping net. 

A catastrophic 4-1 loss on home ice will send the series back to Raleigh as the Hurricanes have forced a Game 6. It’s going to be an extremely long two days before Game 6 on Thursday but frankly, the Rangers need it. After disappointing efforts, specifically from some of their top players, this team needs to settle down, regroup, take a look in the mirror and put an end to this series Thursday Night.