That home/road Hurricanes pattern continued, and from the way the Rangers controlled Game 6, Carolina has to hope it continues until the 2022 Eastern Conference Final. The Rangers once again responded to being on the brink of elimination, beating the Hurricanes 5-2 to force a Game 7 (Monday, 8 p.m. ET).
That home/road pattern opened up a new, specific Hurricanes record. Via ESPN, the Hurricanes became the first NHL team in playoff history to trail by multiple goals in their first six road postseason games.
ESPN noted strong Game 7 work from both the Hurricanes and Rangers:
It’s been 13 years since the Rangers lost a Game 7 on the road. Carolina has never lost a home Game 7, and its last Game 7 loss was 30 years ago as the Whalers
— Pat Pickens (@Pat_Pickens) May 29, 2022
Speaking of history, the Hurricanes hope they can keep at least one other pattern going. They’ve never lost a series (nine series wins) once they’ve managed a 3-2 lead. The (perhaps-too?) rested Lightning will await the winner of a Game 7 after sweeping their series.
Rangers get to Hurricanes, Raanta early in Game 6
It’s been rare for Antti Raanta to look shaky during the Hurricanes – Rangers series, but he fought through a tough start to Game 6. Ultimately, he wouldn’t get a chance to try to generate a strong finish.
After being held without a point through the first two games of the Hurricanes – Rangers series, Mika Zibanejad stayed hot in Game 6. You might argue Raanta should’ve stopped this one. Yet, Zibanejad is a deceptive shooter, and really seems to become deadlier on the power play.
Zibanejad beat Raanta to extend his goal streak to four games. Three of those four tallies happened on the power play.
In the last 40 years, three Rangers generated playoff goal streaks of at least four games: Zibanejad, Brendan Shanahan (2007) and Alexei Kovalev (1994).
Overall, Zibanejad’s been heating up in the playoffs. In Games 6 and 7 against the Penguins, Zibanejad was prolific, scoring three goals and seven points in elimination situations.
With Chris Kreider cooling off a bit after easily the best regular season of his career, Zibanejad’s production has been pivotal. Especially in keeping that Rangers’ power play humming.
Impressive second period from Rangers’ Chytil
Overall, it was more of the same in the second period of Game 6.
After a well-placed Filip Chytil goal, the Rangers went up 3-0, and the Hurricanes gave Antti Raanta the hook. Former Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei gave the Hurricanes some hope by roofing a 3-1 goal, yet that hope was short-lived.
A different goalie in net only did so much for the Canes. Chytil scored his second goal of Game 6 against Pyotr Kochetkov. As you can see, it was one heck of a backhander:
The Shesterkin difference?
Toward the end of the second period, the Hurricanes gained one more rush of hope. First, Vincent Trocheck scored to reduce New York’s lead to 4-2.
Then, Carolina gained potentially game-changing power-play opportunities. In an especially interesting sequence, the Hurricanes had the Rangers hemmed in their zone for a long time, only for Igor Shesterkin to bring down Seth Jarvis on an interference penalty.
Some wondered if Shesterkin lost his cool. I lean toward the opposite. Maybe Shesterkin noticed how dangerous the situation was looking, and made an executive decision.
(Personally, I couldn’t help but think of it as a decision akin to a goalie knocking down his own net, a choice often made on a would-be breakaway.)
During a Game 6 when Hurricanes goalies were struggling a bit, this was a night where you get an idea about the Shesterkin difference. He made some wonderful saves to rob Carolina of chances to make this one tougher. Shesterkin took that (in my opinion, smart) penalty, and also collected two assists in Game 6.
Rangers’ power play makes a difference where Hurricanes has been quiet
In the third, the Canes made some pushes here and there. It really seemed elementary once Artemi Panarin scored a power-play goal, though.
Speaking of power plays, it’s fair to note that the special teams battle has been closer than it sometimes first appears in this series.
Yes, the Rangers scored three power-play goals heading into Game 6, while the Hurricanes managed just one. Carolina scored twice shorthanded, however, while New York hasn’t found the net that way in this series. So the two teams were actually dead even … until Game 6.
Those Zibanejad and Panarin goals really bought the Rangers breathing room when they needed it. The Hurricanes boast the talent to flip that power play narrative, yet the way things are looking, it feels like the Rangers would hold the advantage if Game 7 is decided by the PP.
An overview of the Rangers – Hurricanes series as it reaches Game 7
In Game 1, Ian Cole lifted Carolina in overtime. [Score: Hurricanes 2, Rangers 1 (OT)]
The Hurricanes’ defense really showed in Game 2, as the Rangers couldn’t manage a goal. [Score: Hurricanes 2, Rangers 0]
Did you hear that the Hurricanes keep winning at home, but losing on the road? Those away troubles continued in Game 3. Gerard Gallant ended up unhappy with some late-game antics. [Score: Rangers 3, Hurricanes 1]
Part of the story was the Rangers tying the series 2-2. Another big Jacob Trouba hit was also part of the focus of Game 4. [Score: Rangers 4, Hurricanes 1]
A lot of patterns continued in Game 5, including the Hurricanes winning at home. They did, however, finally connect on the power play, and found the net for a power-play goal. [Score: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 1]
Then, we had this Game 6. Once again, the Rangers handily won at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers – Hurricanes Game 7: start time, TV info
Game 7 takes place on Monday, May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports).
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Rangers force Game 7 as Hurricanes lose on the road again originally appeared on NBCSports.com