New York Rangers win 6-2, advance to the Conference Finals

We are running out of words to describe this New York Rangers team. Perhaps Gerard Gallant summed it up perfectly with one sentence. “I’ve said it a hundred times this year, we’re not perfect, but we find ways to win.”

There were a lot of surprises in this game, mostly for the Hurricanes and their fans. They fell behind early and the Rangers built on it and got out of the first period with a 2-0 lead. It was 3-0 after two periods and 4-0 early in the third period. When the Hurricanes scored to cut the lead to 4-1 the Rangers answered back 40 seconds later to put the game out of reach.

Gallant said that scoring first was key. “We attacked, we fought. Again, our goalie led the way and made some great saves at key times. We took advantage of the power plays early in the hockey game. Got that lead on them and makes it tough to come back when you have a two goal lead after the first. ”

Team resilience became only the fourth team in NHL history to win multiple series in the same year after trailing by multiple games in two or more of those series.

Chris Kreider showed he has become a true New Yorker in his description of the Rangers. “We’re like cockroaches. We just did not go away. We won’t go away. That’s been a characteristic of every good team I’ve been on. “

In Igor we trust

Once again, Igor Shesterkin was a brick wall in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots, allowing only two goals late in the game when it was virtually over. In the first two periods he was outstanding. Eight minutes into the game he made a fabulous save off a shot by Teuvo Teravainen and that set the tone for the night.

It was clear that Shesterkin was getting in the heads of the Hurricanes especially on the power play. They were overpassing, looking for the perfect shot and it cost them as they were held off the scoreboard until the third period.

He finished with a 4-3 record, a .949 Save Percentage and 1.72 Goals Against Average, allowing 12 goals on 234 shots.

Other heroes

If you want a leader of this team, it’s Adam Fox. He scored the first, all important goal for the Rangers, jumping into the play with time waning on their first power play.

It was his fifth goal of the playoffs in 14 games. Consider that he scored 11 goals in 78 regular season games. With two points, he added to his league leading scoring total among defensemen.

Chris Kreider had been a virtual no show in three prior games in Raleigh, but he contributed with a big two-goal night. He scored the second Rangers goal on the power play on a sublime feed from Mika Zibanejad.

Kreider added a second goal just four minutes into the third period on a break-in, using his speed a strength to get open.

It made the score 4-0 and broke the game wide open.

Mika Zibanejad continued his torrid scoring with three assists. With 19 points is this third in scoring this postseason and he was skating like a demon the entire game.

Even Ryan Strome got on the scoresheet. He scored his first goal in 12 games on his 42nd shot of the playoffs.

Ironically, it came seconds after he missed an open net on an odd man rush. He was able to break in on the same shift and did not issue this time, putting the puck behind goalie Pyotr Kochetkov who had replaced Antti Raanta who suffered a leg injury in the second period.

Filip Chytil and the Kid Line was excellent and Filip Chytil scored his third goal in two games when he was sprung on a breakaway after a takeaway by Kaapo Kakko at the blue line.

Jacob Trouba had a huge impact on the game. He laid a tremendous legal hit into Seth Jarvis who had trouble getting back to the bench.

A Hurricanes player jumped on the ice too soon and they ended up with a bench minor for the second Rangers power play that ended up with a goal.

Can we just thank the hockey gods that Ryan Lindgren is a New York Ranger. He left the game in the second period with an injury that looked serious on a marginal hit by Nino Niederreiter.

Of course, who was back on the bench a few minutes later? Ryan Lindgren.

And let’s not leave out Andrew Copp who scored an empty net goal, but more importantly, set up the screen for Adam Fox on the first Ranger goal.

An imperfect team

Were they perfect? As Gallant said, obviously not. Their performance in the faceoff circle was awful as Carolina won 48 of 72 draws, over two thirds. Once again, they were an analytics aficionado’s nightmare with only 46 shot attempts compared to 81 for the Canes. That’s a 36.22% Corsi For number and were much the same at even strength. Face it, based on the numbers, the Rangers had no business winning. In Igor we trust.

While Shesterkin was the star, it was a huge effort by the entire team. The Rangers had 25 blocked shots, but they reversed a nasty habit of giving away the puck, with only 10 giveaways to 19 for Carolina.

Some numbers. The Rangers power play was 7-21 (33%) against the best penalty kill in the NHL. They stopped 16 of 18 penalties (89%). The Rangers were outshot in all of the games except the opener giving up an average of 33.6 shots per game while averaging 26.1 shots themselves.

It’s been a fabulous run and it is far from over. The Rangers have one day off before the Conference Finals begin on Wednesday. The storyline we will be inundated with will be the match-up between Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy, the two best goalies in the world.

Can this resilient team of playoff novices and veterans keep it going? There’s no reason to believe that they won’t.

Conference Finals schedule

Here’s the schedule for the series against Tampa. All of the games will be televised on ESPN.

  1. 8pm, Wednesday, June 1 – Tampa
  2. 8pm, Friday, June 3 – Tampa
  3. 3pm, Sunday, June 5 – At Tampa
  4. 8pm, Tuesday, June 7 – At Tampa
  5. 8pm, Thursday, June 9 – Tampa (if necessary)
  6. 8pm, Saturday, June 11 – At Tampa (if necessary)
  7. 8pm, Tuesday, June 14 – Tampa (if necessary)

Here’s a video recap of the game.

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