Rangers hold serve on Garden Ice, series at 2-1

Sunday afternoons Game 3 contest against the Carolina Hurricanes was about as close as you can get to a must-win scenario. On the heels of two losses in which they played some of their best defensive games of the season, Gerard Gallant entered Sunday with three new lines in hopes of generating more offense.

The new lines looked like this:
1st line: Kreider – Zibanejad – Chytil
2nd line: Panarin – Strome – Lafreniere
3rd line: Vatrano – Copp – Kakko

Right off the first faceoff, the 3rd line centered by Copp got the puck deep and generated a few scoring chances. Throughout the afternoon, all three new lines created opportunities that weren’t available in Games 1 and 2.

Much of the frustration stemming from the first two games in Carolina was the lack of production from the Ranger’s top stars. The top six combined for just five shots on goal in Game 2, with Panarin, Kreider, Zibanejad, and Strome combining for 0 shots. The newly minted top 6 on Sunday combined for 18 shots in Game 3.

Mika Zibanejad got the scoring going with a Power play goal halfway through the first period. Artemi Panarin sent a cross-ice pass over to Zibanejad for a one-timer between Antti Raanta and the near post.

Chris Kreider got the Rangers second tally of the day on snipe from the bottom of the dot. While the Rangers were cycling the puck deep in the Hurricanes zone, Zibanejad seemed to have knocked Tony DeAngelo’s stick into the air. DeAngelo went to defend Kreider without his stick, and Kreider had room to pin the top right corner. However, the referee signaled immediately that it was a good goal.

While the new lines created more offense, they also gave up more opportunities than the first two games of the series. Igor Shesterkin was almost perfect on the day, stopping 43 of 44 shots. The one he let in was a weak backhander that Nino Niederreiter put on the net.

With a 2-1 advantage going into the third period, Gallant switched back to the lines he ran with for the entirety of the playoffs and most of April. Those lines limited the Hurricanes to 24 shots on goal per game during the first two games. Carolina had 35 shots on goal through the first two periods in Game 3. While the Rangers went with a more defensive-minded approach for the 3rd period, they still outshot the Hurricanes 10-9 in the final frame.

Tyler Motte clinched the game for the Blueshirts with an empty-net goal with 1:23 left in the 3rd. He bailed out Chris Kreider, who missed that same empty net thirty seconds earlier.

As the clock ticked down to 0, Tie Domi, I mean Max Domi, slashed Ryan Lindgren and started a rugby scrum at the Rangers blueline. Ryan Reaves was immediately escorted away by one of the Footlocker employees with skates while Lindgren and Domi wrestled on the ice. Gallant looked irate on the bench and was screaming at a few Hurricanes partaking in the postgame antics.

Gallant’s new-look lines and old reliable lines got the job done, but which set will he roll out on Tuesday night when the Rangers try and even the series at two games?

Rangers Eastern Conference bound, Kreider putting this team on his back, Shesty with huge game saving saves, need I say more?For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
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Luca Perito

Born and raised in New York. I've lived in Arizona, Maryland, Delaware, and California. Love all sports. Twitter @elbigcalzonelp -- Instagram @thebigcalzone

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