So you wanted to see some special teams?
Be careful what you wish for.
The Rangers might prefer if Game 3 of their second-round playoff series were more like the series opener, with nearly 60-plus minutes of five-on-five play, rather than the exhibition of misery that was Game 2 on Friday night, which ended in ain Raleigh, N.C., and put the Blueshirts in a 2-0 series hole.
After just 27 seconds on the power play in Game 1, the Rangers had their chances in this one — did they ever. Carolina took five penalties, including a Brady Skjei four-minute high-sticking double minor at 13:01 of the second period that looked to be a golden chance to open up what had been a meandering, low-event affair.
It turned out to be just that. For the Hurricanes, that is.
The Rangers did not seriously test Carolina goaltender Antti Raanta for the duration, but Igor Shesterkin got quite a workout, finally ceding to Brendan Smith on a shorthanded two-on-one from Sebastian Aho. That tracked with the rest of the night at five-on-four, as the Rangers’ power play, which was such a strength all season, turned into a deficiency.
“We did a good job on the line so they weren’t able to break in cleanly,” Smith said. “And then [Teuvo Teravainen], I saw, got the puck out first. I just noticed that Turbo makes great plays, he can chip it into space. I saw [Aho] moving, I tried to get going as fast as I could, find the lane.”
The Rangers struggled to win a faceoff — a problem that plagued them at even strength as well. They struggled to enter the zone. They got caught out by Carolina’s so-called power kill, which puts an emphasis on getting up the ice and creating shorthanded chances, giving up rushes the wrong way until one finally converted.
“Their power play’s so good,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “Obviously that was the difference in the game tonight.”
It figured the lack of special teams play in the first game was a win for the Hurricanes. Defenseman Brett Pesce told reporters Friday morning that he liked the lack of penalties on either side in that game.
Pesce, one of the best players on the ice Friday, also acknowledged beforehand how unlikely that was to continue.
“Sometimes [a scrum’s] good for the emotion if you’re tired or whatever, but listen, it’s a long series,” he said. “I’m sure there are gonna be scrums.”
It took barely three minutes of play on Friday for Pesce’s words to come true. Kevin Rooney and Smith both were sent off for roughing following a shoving match. It was not the only incident of the night involving Smith, the former Ranger, who had moments with Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere in the opening frame as well.
“We want to stay out of all that, obviously,” Brind’Amour told reporters prior to the game.
For all the wrong reasons — the Hurricanes’ own power play was nondescript, and they failed to do much with a five-on-three late in the third — all of that turned out to be a benefit to Carolina.
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