NEW YORK — The New York Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 5-2 in Game 6 Saturday night, extending Carolina’s losing streak in the playoffs to six games.
But Game 7 is back in Raleigh Monday night, where the Hurricanes have won all seven games this postseason — and where they eliminated the Boston Bruins in a seventh game in the first round.
“It was obviously much better for us to be at home,” said defender Brady Skjei. “We’re going to try and scrap that game. We obviously did exactly the same thing in the first round, winning and losing home and away.”
Carolina has a goal difference of minus 16, a 1.67 goal average and 4.33 goals against a 0-6 average on the road. The Hurricanes are 7-0 at home with a goal difference of plus 17, a 3.57 goal average and a 1.14 goal conceded average.
That dichotomy extends to goalkeeper Antti Raanta in Game 6, who was pulled from just 3:24 into the second half after giving up three goals on 13 shots. With five away losses, Raanta has a .872 save percentage and a 3.96 clean sheet average. With seven wins at home, Raanta has a .965 save percentage and a .97 goals conceded average.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour confirmed Raanta will start for the Hurricanes in Game 7 and is confident his goaltender will continue after the flop in Game 6.
“If you go down in a game, just let those go. Once we went behind, we never really got going again. There are a lot of guys who haven’t played very well,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to shake off a game like that than a game where you’re in the middle and something bad happens.”
Rangers took a 1-0 lead at both ends of the ice in a thrilling sequence. Goalie Igor Shesterkin (37 saves) made a save from Sebastian Aho’s escape and then again from Teuvo Teravainen’s follow-up shot. Forward Tyler Motte rushed the other way and sent an unshielded shot between the tops of the circles that splattered through Raanta for an unassisted goal and the 12:38 lead.
“It wasn’t a bad start. Then they come down and get that,” said Brind’Amour.
New York extended their lead to 2-0 with another playoff power play goal. With defenseman Brendan Smith in the box for a high stick on Alexis Lafreniere, center Mika Zibanejad scored his seventh playoff goal with a low shot that Raanta could have had. Shesterkin made 15 saves in the first period.
“It didn’t surprise me. I knew we were going to come out tough and play well,” said New York coach Gerard Gallant.
Raanta was pulled into the second period at 3:24 after Rangers made it 3-0. Center Filip Chytil, who had just missed a 2-on-1 chance, scored his third playoff goal with Adam Fox’s second assist of the game. Kochetkov came on, his first action since Game 3 against the Boston Bruins on May 6. Skjei made things interesting briefly with a goal at 5:05 in the second period after a shielded Shesterkin. But it was Chytil again with a long shot that defeated Kochetkov 6:47 and restored the three-goal lead.
The Hurricanes regained the lead at 12:47 with a goal by Vincent Trocheck, his fifth of the playoffs. They finished the half with momentum but two goals down.
The third period was exactly what the Hurricanes didn’t want, as most of it was played on special teams. Defender Jaccob Slavin took a rare penalty – four minutes for a high stick against Rangers forward Chris Kreider – just 3:55 into the third. Just over a minute later, Rangers forward Artemi Panarin made it 4-on-4 with a hook penalty, but that was canceled out 1:05 later by an interference penalty from Ian Cole. Panarin scored his fourth goal of the playoffs to make it a 5-2 game.
“Tonight was one of those nights when nothing went our way. Let’s just leave it at that,” Brind’Amour said.
Both teams know the script changed when the action moved from Madison Square Garden to Raleigh. Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said that wasn’t in the back of his teammates’ minds during the Game 6 loss.
“No, we came here to win,” he said.
But they didn’t win, which means it’s now down to a one-game streak.
“We have to play like we play at home,” said Chytil. “We found a way to win in Pittsburgh (on the road). It’s a game 7 now. We have to find a way to win the game. I know they have the fans and they have the building to get used to. We have to play hard and play our game. Just don’t focus on anything else. I think we can win the game.”