Recap: Rangers Weather Third Period Storm, Win Game 1

After a long, yet well-deserved week off following the sweep in Washington, the Rangers were ready to kick off Round 2 on home ice as they met the Carolina Hurricanes. While both teams came off fast and relatively easy Round 1's, this would prove to require a much tighter effort that gave hockey fans an exciting preview of what's bound to be some great hockey throughout the series. Let's take it from the top!

1st Period:

Given the start of the new series, there was bound to be some of that feeling out process but things would quickly start to go in the Rangers favor. Just three minutes in, Jack Roslovic took the puck behind Carolina’s net on a great zone entry to find Mika Zibanejad all alone in the slot where he was able to tuck it past the pad of Freddie Anderson. 1-0 good guys. 

Of course about one minute later, a deflected shot from Jaccob Slavin at the point took a weird route and bounced over the shoulder of Igor Shesterkin to make it a 1-1 game early on. The quick answer from Carolina would be less than ideal and that trend would continue as they would get the games first man advantage. Soon after the Hurricanes tied it up, Chris Kreider was sent off for boarding Seth Jarvis. Not a great hit by any means that would give the Rangers penalty killers a big test against a team that is right up there with them as far as special teams are concerned. 

Thankfully, the Rangers regained some momentum with a strong penalty kill. Right around the ten minute mark of the first period, the Rangers got their turn at the power play as Tony DeAngelo delivered a high and hard hit on Will Cuylle. The initial call on the ice was on Martin Necas for tripping as his leg had gotten caught up with Cuylle’s prior to the hit. The officials took a deeper look at it and actually reviewed the hit for a major penalty but the only change would be giving DeAngelo the penalty for roughing instead of the trip to Necas. 

It wouldn’t take long for the Hurricanes to get reminded not to leave Kreider all alone in front of the net on the power play as Vincent Trocheck moved the puck ahead as Brady Skjei pinched attempting to break up the play. Kreider didn’t even look as he threw the puck over to Mika Zibanejad who fired a one timer into the back of the net for his second of the night. We’ll take Mika May over Mika March any year. 

About a minute later, the Rangers were sent back to the penalty kill as Matt Rempe would go off for goaltender interference. A terrible call considering Jordan Staal had pushed Rempe right into the Hurricanes netminder. 

Following a big save from Igor Shesterkin, another spirited scrum took place which ended up sending Jacob Trouba and Andrei Svechnikov off for coincidental roughing minors. The Rangers did another good job of killing off the man advantage and immediately followed it up with an outstanding shift from that third line of Cuylle - Wennberg - Kakko that nearly resulted in a goal. 

With just under four minutes to go in the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Rangers another power play as he delivered a cross-check right to the face of Adam Fox. An extremely undisciplined penalty for Kuznetsov to take which immediately led to another Rangers goal. Adam Fox had to start the power play on the bench seeing as the whistle was blown after he went down. Erik Gustafsson moved the puck around well at the blue line and sent it over to Artemiy Panarin who moved it down low. There, Trocheck and Zibanejad went back and forth which resulted in Trocheck tucking away the loose puck after another look from Zibanejad, 3-1 Rangers. 

Zibanejad ended the period with the perfect opportunity to pick up a hat-trick but pulled a Barclay Goodrow, opting to go with a drop pass on a breakaway. The way everything was clicking for the Rangers early on, it gave them a little too much comfort in that situation which pretty much negated the scoring chance. After the first twenty the Rangers had the 3-1 lead and out-shot the Hurricanes 7-6 but Carolina was winning more of the draws in what became quite the physical start to the series. Special teams was again the difference maker for the Blueshirts. 

2nd Period:

The Rangers settled into much more of a shutdown centered style of play in the second which resulted in a rather fast paced middle period. Two and a half minutes in, Jacob Trouba was called for his second penalty of the night as he cross-checked Stefan Noesen. Another iffy call but regardless, the Rangers continued to run a well-executed penalty kill to hold the Hurricanes off for another two minutes. Jordan Staal ended up with a breakaway towards the end of the kill but Shesterkin would get some help from Lindgren on the backcheck to limit the threat. 

This sparked a good stretch of play where there wouldn’t be a whistle for over six minutes of play. Throughout that, the game continued to get a little more physical but the Rangers were doing a great job of shutting down the Hurricanes, limiting their offensive zone chances. With about five minutes to go in the period, Adam Fox was given another questionable penalty for slashing Svechnikov. It would be business as usual for the Rangers penalty killers as they would find success on their fourth attempt of the night. 

After two the shots were 17-12 in favor of the Blueshirts who were in a perfect situation heading into the final period of regulation. They had a two goal lead, they were playing conservatively without reducing their offense and seemed to be well in control of the game. Of course the Hurricanes wouldn’t go down without a fight and as we all know, a two-goal lead is always the most dangerous lead in hockey. 

3rd Period:

It would be a tough start to the third as Martin Necas snuck through the Rangers defense and caught a pass from Jordan Martinook along the boards to come in on Shesterkin all alone. Both Fox and Lindgren kind of just let Necas through without any trouble and sure enough, he would sneak a quick shot five-hole to bring the Hurricanes within one. Not how you want to start the period by any means but the Rangers were still looking good and Alexis Lafrenière nearly got one back after firing a hard shot off the post. 

Nearing the midway mark of the period, Artemiy Panarin would sound off the Rangers goal horn again as he let a tricky shot go off the rush that trickled through Freddie Anderson making it a 4-2 game. 

Can’t emphasize enough how important Panarin is and to see him continue to score goals in the playoffs is so important. With the two goal lead back in tact, the Rangers were in good standing to close this thing out but Carolina wouldn’t go down easy. 

With just under three minutes to go, the Hurricanes pulled Anderson for the extra attacker and sure enough, it would pay dividends for them. Seth Jarvis managed to redirect a Brent Burns one timer which resulted in him putting home the loose puck with some help from Sebastian Aho, 4-3 game with close to two minutes to go. 

Naturally, the final minutes of this game would be quite stressful. The Rangers struggled to regain possession and couldn’t find a way to clear the zone. Finally, Trocheck got a hand, unfortunately a literal hand, on the puck to clear it out of the zone but sent it over the glass in the process. This put the Rangers at a massive disadvantage to end the game. Not only does a penalty there hurt them, but having their best face-off man in the penalty box for a decisive defensive zone draw is the exact opposite of what you want. Thankfully, the Hurricanes picked up a penalty of their own as Svechnikov tripped Lindgren off the face-off to send the play back to the other end of the ice. 

Zibanejad was inches away from completing his hat-trick but Carolina would pick up the puck at the last second to come down for one last rush. It wouldn’t be enough time to generate a proper last chance which meant the Rangers held on and picked up an important Game 1 win to kick off Round 2. By far one of the more stressful finishes to a game this postseason but there were still plenty of positives for the Rangers to take away from this one. 

At any rate, this was quite the match-up to indicate that Round 2 will be much tighter then what we saw with Washington in Round 1. The Final tally on shots-on-goal would land in Carolina’s favor 25-23. Once again it was the Rangers special teams and close to 30 blocked shots that were a difference maker in them weathering the storm. They’ll be right back at it for Game 2 on Tuesday Night as the Rangers look to keep the wins coming.