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About Last Night: Sweeping Up

The Hurricanes quickly finished up the Rangers Tuesday night, winning game three of the best-of-five qualifying round series to move on in the Toronto bubble.

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes completed a dominant three-game sweep of the New York Rangers in Toronto Tuesday night, as two goals from Sebastian Aho and a fantastic goaltending performance from James Reimer lifted Carolina past New York for a third straight game.

The Canes became the first team to win one of 2020’s unique qualifying round series, and they’ll now sit and wait to see who they’ll play when the more traditional playoffs kick off next week.

The stars were stars

Tripp Tracy summed things up very nicely in the final minute of the broadcast, saying that the Hurricanes’ stars outplayed the stars on the Rangers in this quick series. That was as true in Tuesday night’s game three as it was in the rest of the series, as Sebastian Aho scored twice and had an assist, and Teuvo Teravainen picked up a goal and an assist.

In total, the fantastic trio of Aho, Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov finished the three-game series with a combined seven goals, nine assists and 16 points. It was Aho’s big night to seal the series Tuesday, scoring an absolutely phenomenal goal to put the Canes up 3-1 before tallying the empty netter to really wrap things up.

As Warren Foegele, who also scored in game three, said post game, Aho’s goal was simply “elite.”

Teravainen was also quite fantastic for the Canes in game three, scoring a world-class goal of his own to join his countryman and teammate.

The performance of Carolina’s top line was nothing short of fantastic in this series, and mixed with the always great play of Jaccob Slavin, it was the Hurricanes’ stars who really showed out from start to finish.

On the other side of the equation, the Hurricanes did a relatively good job of limiting the Rangers’ dynamic duo of Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. Panarin and Zibanejad, who were the third-highest scoring teammate pair in the NHL this season, were kept completely quiet Tuesday, and combined for just two goals and two assists in the entire series.

In the battle of two top lines that were loaded with talent, it was the Canes’ young stars that outshined the Hart Trophy finalist, Panarin, and his partner, Zibanejad. It was a huge reason for the Canes’ utter dominance in the series, if you can even call it a series.

Anything you can do, I can do better...

After two outstanding performances in net from Petr Mrazek in games one and two, Rod Brind’Amour went with James Reimer, who had a very strong regular season and could easily have been the Canes’ game-one starter, for game three.

Reimer did not disappoint, putting together another phenomenal goaltending performance that featured stellar positioning and poise to go along with some downright ridiculous saves. Reimer stopped 38 of 39 shots faced Tuesday night, with New York’s one goal coming on a great effort from Chris Kreider that no goalie could have had an answer for.

Reimer made some truly spectacular saves in the game as well, none better than a wild flurry of New York chances late in the second period.

With some help from Sami Vatanen, Reimer somehow kept the puck out of the net on this sequence. The final save was the best, as Reimer closed the door with an unbelievable stick save.

If it seemed that Mrazek had closed the door on the Canes’ goalie competition after the first two games, Reimer opened it right back up Tuesday night. Carolina will have some time off now to rest and get ready for a more familiar playoffs next week, and Brind’Amour will have a goaltending decision coming his way. The good news? Brind’Amour should have unquestionable faith in whichever goalie he puts out on the ice.

So, what’s this team capable of?

A lot of people expected the Hurricanes to be capable of beating the Rangers in this five-game series, but I’m not sure anyone truly expected the complete domination that unfolded over the three games.

Carolina was good on almost every front. The stars were scoring, the defense was strong and the goaltending was fantastic.

So, what now?

The Canes will sit and wait to see who they play, dependent on the outcome of the seeding round-robin as well as the Penguins-Canadiens series. But as they sit and wait, the Hurricanes should feel mighty good about the hockey they just played.

Oh, a reminder. The Hurricanes did that without Dougie Hamilton, undoubtedly one of the team’s best players and leaders who could make his return at any point in the near future.

With Hamilton back and the goalies playing like they are, this Canes team could look mighty dangerous. The Hurricanes made a deep run in last year’s playoffs, and that experience could be crucial in guiding Carolina deep into the playoffs for a second year in a row.

The extent of what this team is fully capable will be discovered in the coming weeks, but we learned one thing for sure after three games against the Rangers: the Canes came to this bubble ready to win.