The New York Rangers took the ice in Raleigh last night and were disappointed again in a game-one overtime loss.
New York looked like a team that belonged in the second round, controlling much of the play and limiting the Hurricanes shots on net. Off of a feed from Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil found the back of the net and put their team on the scoreboard first. Chytil and Lafreniere look like they are warming to the task as reliant playoff forwards. Overall, the Rangers tested ‘Canes’ goaltender Anti Raanta, placing 23 shots on him.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ struggled through two full periods of play, only placing 13 shots on Igor Shesterkin. Looking dominant as ever, Igor looked as if he would seal the deal and steal away a game one win for his team. Many around the league know just how good Igor can be when he’s at the top of his game, and he looked that way Wednesday night in Raleigh. Blanking the Hurricanes through two periods, Igor knew he’d face a heavy load of shots in the third period. The Hurricanes can elevate their game in just a single shift, and with a rambunctious crowd to back them, they did exactly that.
The Canes’ came out hot and heavy to begin the third, putting 14 total shots on the net while only allowing the Rangers to record four shots on Raanta. Set to the task, though, Igor stood on top of his head for three-quarters of the period. With just 3:23 left in regulation, Sebastian Aho broke through for the Hurricanes, scoring his third of the playoffs. As both teams headed for OT, New York knew they had a tall order ahead of them to slow down their opposition and take a much-needed game one victory.
Having a still sour taste in their mouths from the OT loss the Rangers took in game one of the first round, they looked like they wanted to set the tone early for the extra period and possibly the series. The Blueshirts came out of the locker room looking fresh, controlling the puck for the early moments of the overtime. They only registered one shot on Raanta but looked good for the short amount of time played in OT.
What seemed to me to be a blind shot on net turned out to be the golden goal. Ian Cole was credited for it, but in reality, he should be buying Ryan Lindgren a steak dinner in either New York or Raleigh for his first career game-winning score. Lindgren tried to block the shot with his stick but inadvertently deflected it passed Igor. With that, the Hurricanes draw blood first in this series, leading 1-0.
The tale last night could have been different. Kaapo Kakko missed two high-scoring opportunities – one of which was a partial breakaway. He couldn’t get a real handle on the puck as he had defensive pressure behind him. As for the other opportunity, he misfired on a yawning net, shooting the puck through the crease and wide. Certainly frustrating, but as stated, New York seems like they are up to the test with Carolina.
New York is battle-tested, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit not even a full week ago. Let’s take it game-by-game. I expect them to bounce back in game three and split the first two games in Raleigh.