Brief recap of the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 overtime win over the New York Rangers
The series opener against the New York Rangers on Wednesday actually started a bit the same as the Boston Bruins series. The Canes were slow out of the gate, a bit sloppy and were generally outplayed from the outset. The result was a first period that was sluggish, sloppy and at times treacherous. The Rangers scored first on a 3-on-1 rush after a bad puck management turnover by Tony DeAngelo that saw him feed a pass right to LaFreniere for a rush against. When Jaccob Slavin as unable to recover quickly enough to take away a cross-ice pass on the 3-on-1 that ensued, Antti Raanta had no chance. In a horrid first period, DeAngelo also got caught watching as a Ranger skated right by him to between the face-off circles for another point blank chance. DeAngelo might have struggled the most, but the rest of the team was not better. Raanta had at least three spectacular first period saves to keep the Canes in it. The Canes could easily have been down 3-0 without Raanta having a bad period. It was that bad.
Taking baby steps in the second period, the Canes at least cleaned up the big messes, but the game was still sluggish and any kind of cohesion or scoring chances were nowhere to be found. Through two periods the Canes registered only 14 shots on net to the Rangers 23, and the only thing I can remember that was even a medium grade scoring chance was a pass across to Martin Necas that he mostly fanned on. The Canes would exit the second period lucky to be trailing only 1-0 and still searching the ignition button.
Via some combination of whatever happened or was said in the locker room during the second intermission and Brind’Amour shuffling three of the four lines, the Canes did in fact finally find the ignition button to start the third period. It began with a run of shifts with a bunch of offensive zone time and eventually ramped up to at least a few decent scoring changes. But when Nino Niederreiter went bar down on a breakaway but not into the net with 7:23 remaining in the game, it was reasonable to feel like it just was not meant to be. But inside of three minutes, Sebastian Aho found himself with a partial breakaway. Igor Shesterkin made the save on the initial attempt, but the rebound found Aho’s stick and then quickly the back of the net. With the Canes both dominating the period and finding new life in the tying goal, the Rangers managed to escape the third period tied at 1-1 and hoping for a reset for overtime. The Canes finished the third period with a 10-4 shot advantage and momentum heading into overtime.
Overtime was back and forth initially but saw the Canes establish pressure in the offensive zone. Maybe just looking to get the puck deep and/or get an offensive zone face-off at the end of a shift, Ian Cole whirled and flung the puck toward the net. With no Canes in front, the seemingly harmless shot found Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren who deflected the puck past Shesterkin 3:02 into overtime to push the Canes to victory.
Player and other notes
1) Overall not good
In general, the Canes were not good and arguably did not deserve to win. That might actually make this win even more important. The Rangers had a road win in hand and though they were the better team through two periods, they never really found the killer instinct and let the Canes hang around. Kaapo Kakko missing a gaping net in the third period was the most notable single play, but more generally the Rangers were unable to convert their advantage to more than a one goal lead.
2) Antti Raanta especially in the first period
The Canes were bad enough and the Rangers good enough in the first period, that the game could have been mostly over after the first period if not for Raanta. He had at least three spectacular saves and held the fort until the Canes skaters woke up.
3) Ian Cole as the scoring hero!
There is the video that goes with, it is never a bad idea to shoot the puck, especially in overtime. The journey to the Cup always requires some lucky bounces or breaks. The Canes can count this one. Good for Ian Cole picking up the first star with a huge goal!
4) Jordan Staal’s line
Staal’s line was not immune to the Canes sloppiness and struggles, but when the dust settled, they did their job keeping Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin off the score sheet. On a night when the Canes struggled offensively, even a single goal against would likely have changed the outcome.
5) A need to get the puck to the top of the crease
One thing that stands out about the Canes play at times in the playoffs is that some of the skilled players too much settle for the less obstructed path to the outside of the face-off circles. The middle of the ice is always going to be crowded. And trying to carry the puck there off the rush is going to lead to a good number of thwarted attempts. But players like Aho, Svechnikov, Necas and others need to take at least some chances trying to get the puck to between the face-off circles where goals happen. A telling play was where Aho had the puck roll off his stick just inside the offensive blue line. The puck trickled toward Shesterkin as Aho pursued. When Shesterkin’s clearing attempt hit something, it very nearly found Svechnikov’s stick for a grade A scoring chance. Even if it is not likely to result in an immediate scoring chance, getting the puck to dangerous areas is a starting point for generating some scoring chances even if not necessarily in a pretty, expected kind of way. Necas was unsuccessful but tried to do a bit more with the puck on his stick on Wednesday. As long as that does not include taking risks in dangerous places (mostly the two blue lines), I view that as a positive first step toward him breaking through.
6) A critical miss for the Rangers?
The Rangers played a good road game, arguably deserved to win, but did not emerge with an all-important road win. The Rangers similarly lost game 1 in overtime in the first round and that was even a home loss, so obviously one game will not end the series. That said, if the Canes can push forward from the momentum and success in the third period, one has to wonder if letting game 1 slip away will prove to be a fatal error for the Rangers when we look back at the end.
Next up is game 2 also in Raleigh on Friday night!