NHL Playoffs: Carolina Hurricanes Survive the New York Rangers in Game 4 | 5/11/2024

Photo: ROBERT WILLETT

Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is wrapping up, and the Carolina Hurricanes control their own destiny.

After last week’s victory against the New York Islanders at PNC Arena for Game 6, the Hurricanes advanced to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers, current Stanley Cup favorites. The Rangers are the 2024 President’s Trophy winners and are the only team to complete a sweep in the first round of the NHL playoffs this year. Carolina and New York are two teams that genuinely, deeply hate the other. Like other great hockey rivalries of the past and present, such as ‘90s Avalanche/Red Wings or today’s Bruins/Panthers, Hurricanes/Rangers games tend to be marked with intense physicality, controversial calls, and brawls. This series has not been the exception to the rule. Each game racks major penalty minutes on both ends, with penalties serving as make-or-breaks for wins. The series has also been marked by special teams play, goaltending, and utilization of the powerplay. Carolina’s weaker spots are in these areas, especially powerplay utilization and special teams play.

Speculation around the team’s future has taken the national hockey media’s attention during the series, including the coaching status of head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Brind’Amour has been the Canes’s head coach since 2018 and has not yet signed an official contract extension. While speculation about why Brind’Amour’s contract has not officially been renewed has been rampant, the coach told local reporters that he intends to stay in Carolina. The Hurricanes also have one of the highest numbers of players preparing to be UFAs this offseason.

Games 1 and 2 were dominated by the Rangers, especially for former Hurricane Vincent Trochek and Mika Zibanejad. Game 1 in New York City was a swift reminder of just how talented the 2023-2024 New York Rangers squad is. Zibanejad was the star of Game 1, with two first-period goals setting Carolina behind early. Despite goals from Lady Byng Memorial Trophy finalist Jaccob Slavin, Martin Necas, and rising star Seth Jarvis, the Hurricanes fell to the Rangers, 4-3. Other standouts included a Trochek goal, an Artemi Panarin goal, and multiple great saves by Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin is one of the NHL’s most consistent and high-performing goaltenders, often outperforming Carolina.

Game 2 began with a shock – Carolina’s Evgeny Kuznetsov was a healthy scratch. Fan outcry prompted, causing Brind’Amour to tell the media the next day that Kuznetsov did not play due to penalty minutes. Brind’Amour’s statement raised more questions and controversy for fans and reporters. Kuznetsov’s absence was just the start of Carolina’s misfortunes for Game 2. With a Shesterkin masterclass and early Alexis Lafreniere goal, the first period didn’t begin strongly for the Canes. Yet, first-period goals by Jake Guentzel and Dmitry Orlov caused some hope for both players and fans. Lafreniere and Guentzel spent the second period battling for goals, finishing 3-2 Carolina. Rangers captain Jacob Trouba controversially attempted to elbow Carolina’s Necas in the head, causing him to crash directly into the boards of Madison Square Garden. Replays showed Trouba’s skate on the way back down nearly hitting Necas’s neck. Necas told reporters later that “everybody knows what kind of player (Trouba) is.” The play was not reviewed by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety afterward, despite viewer outrage. New York’s Chris Kreider tied the game early into the third period, sending the game into overtime. After one overtime remained scoreless, Trochek scored at 12:38 minutes into double overtime.

Game 3 was the start of a homestand in Raleigh, with rampant hope that the team could turn things around with goaltender Pytor Kochetkov in net for the first time since April 14 and the return of Kuznetsov. That hope continued after Jake Guentzel scored in the first period. While Carolina had more shots on goal, their powerplay and special teams fell flat. The first period was marked by Guentzel’s first playoff goal as a Hurricane and a full-on brawl that led to a full penalty box for both teams. The second period brought the return of Kreider, as he scored on a shorthanded goal with a Zibanejad assist. Lafreniere scored with assists from Trochek and Panarin, highlighting more of his dominance in the series. PNC Arena was not thrilled about officiating during the period, as former Ranger and current Hurricane Brady Skjei was penalized for a goaltender interference call. When the penalty was killed by Carolina, Skjei’s return was meant with full-arena cheers intended for a goal.

The third period brought back more Lafreniere highlights, as the right winger scored yet again with assists from Trochek and Panarin. To the surprise of fans in the arena, Carolina superstar Andrei Svechnikov scored in the eighteenth minute of the period, tying the game. This year’s playoffs are Svechnikov’s first since returning from an ACL injury last season. Yet again, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers met the same road – overtime. As an arena packed to the brim prayed for no more double overtimes, Panarin struck magic again. Due to defensive mistakes from Carolina, Panarin was able to score the game-winning goal within two minutes of overtime, furthering the Rangers series lead to 3-0.

Carolina fans inside PNC Arena were stunned silent after Panarin’s overtime goal, less than two minutes into the period. Many Carolina fans were leaving the arena in tears or wearing stunned expressions, including the famous hands-on-head “how did this happen” pose. Conversely, Rangers fans celebrated throughout the arena, echoing “Let’s Go Rangers” chants. What had become a shared celebration of fandom and joy before the game led to fans’s devastation and anger. Historically, it is incredibly rare for teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Fans, analysts, reporters, and the players themselves know this. Going into Game 4, Carolina’s fan spirit was low. A second sweep was expected for New York without much fight from the Hurricanes.

The team absorbed that anger in Game 4. A minute and fifty-one seconds into the game, Kuznetsov scored an unassisted wrist shot. Kuznetsov’s famous bird celebration was back at PNC Arena – this time, done directly in front of a row of Rangers fans. Five minutes later, Stefan Noesen scored his fourth goal of the playoffs, assisted by Tuevo Teravainen and former, highly controversial Ranger Tony DeAngelo.

Midway through the first, goaltender Frederik Andersen misplayed a puck behind the net, allowing Rangers’s Braeden Schneider to even the score. This was Schneider’s first playoff goal, in pure Hurricanes fashion. Finishing the first period with a vengeance, Sebastian Aho scored with two minutes left. Aho’s goal was assisted by Guentzel and Burns. Guentzel and Aho’s chemistry is noticeable to both national media and fans, furthering rumors about Guentzel being re-signed by Carolina during the offseason.

The second and third periods were major for New York. Towards the conclusion of the second period, New York’s Barclay Goodrow scored his second playoff goal, bringing the score 3-2. Goodrow’s goal was assisted by Schneider and Jimmy Vesey. To tie the game, Rangers standout Alexis Lafreniere scored underneath the goal line at the start of the third, assisted by Zibanejad and Trouba. Kuznetsov attempted the lacrosse goal that teammate Svechnikov has become well-known for, but Shesterkin blocked the shot.

Ironically enough, the game-winning goal was also the snap of a curse. Prior to Brady Skjei’s powerplay game-winner, the Canes’s PPG percentage for the series was 0%. Carolina went 0-16 on all powerplay goal chances throughout the series. Skjei’s goal increased the percentage to 0.05%, and 1-16. Prior to Game 4, Skjei was moved to PP1, a shocker for those following the team’s statistics.

The powerplay is still a lingering – and possibly lethal – issue for the Hurricanes, even though the Rangers hold one of the NHL’s penalty kill percentages. In the moment, Carolina fans didn’t care. The curse was broken, at least for the time being. The local North Carolina radio broadcast of Canes play-by-play broadcaster Mike Maniscalco and color commentator Tripp Tracy could barely be heard over Carolina fans inside of PNC Arena as South Carolina native Darius Rucker’s hit “Wagon Wheel” played on the arena’s speakers, a complete tonal switch from Game 3’s heartbreaker.

Game 5 will be played Monday, May 13, at Madison Square Garden. New York currently leads the series 3-1. The NHL has yet to announce a time for Game 5. For now, one thing remains the standout of Game 4 for Carolina fans – the Hurricanes survive to see another game.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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