The Canes struggled mightily for the first 40 minutes of the game, as only a masterful effort in net from Antti Raanta kept the Hurricanes within striking distance as the Rangers carried a 1-0 lead into the final frame.
But Carolina turned it on the third period, with Sebastian Aho tying things up in the final minutes before Ian Cole played the unlikely role of overtime hero to give the home team a 1-0 series lead despite being the worse team for most of the night.
Following the win, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Aho, Raanta and Cole spoke with members of the media.
Here is what they had to say:
On it being just how he drew it up: Not really. We’ll take the win, that’s for sure.
On flipping the switch after the second: Well, we raised the level of our game and the intensity. We raised the desperation of our game, which we needed. We were lacking for two periods. Obviously it doesn’t always work out, but we had a real good third period. That got us back in the game and it carried into overtime.
On what went so wrong in the first two periods: Give them a lot of credit. They played a really great game. For two periods they were the better team, no question. Especially in the first period. In the first period we were just not there. Raanta made a couple of big saves.
On shifting the lines: It was not the changes, it’s just the attitude and way we played that period. When you’re down you have to up your game, and that’s kind of what happened. Kudos to our guys. They got it going. It certainly was a good third period. We’re not going to get away with that, not playing two periods and expect to win a game. Especially not against that team and this time of year.
On the crossbars: I don’t know. You’re just like ‘maybe we’re getting what we deserve here,’ because they had a couple of good ones, too. But I like the fact that we just kept coming. We didn’t really change too much in the third. We threw everything at them. We were fortunate to get the tying goal and get away with the win.
On being able to throw Aho with Teravainen: That’s the fallback. You always know those guys have the history. They feel good together. It’s not rocket science putting those guys together. It’s no different than the last series when the teams are putting their best players together. You’re trying to create a little different flow to your group. That’s all you’re doing. Obviously tonight it worked. You never know. It doesn’t always work.
On Cole scoring the winner and infrequent scorers stepping up: Over the years, I remember Niclas Wallin was always a big one. That’s what’s great about this game. You just don’t know who is going to be the guy. Now he’s got that moment forever. I think that’s what makes it special. You count on everyone, but it’s nice that other guys that you don’t talk about all the time can be a part of that and feel these special moments.
On the team being good at making in-game adjustments: They know what we were not doing right. They were on the bench talking about it. Again, to me it was more what New York was doing. They were on it. They were playing hard and forcing us to get away from what we need to do. They played a good game. It went our way. But yeah, all good teams the coach doesn’t need to tell them what they’re not doing right. They know.
On good teams stealing games: You’ve got to. We’ve seen it against us enough over the years where we were the better team and you’re going ‘wait, what just happened?’ It feels pretty good to be on this side of it sometimes where you can say you snuck one out.
On Raanta saying he sensed OT would end quickly: It happens a lot. It can happen any time, but it seems to a lot of times happen either quick or not at all until later. I think they had a couple looks, and then we had that one good shift. That was a real-good shift that led to the goal.
On the chemistry between him and Teravainen even when they’ve been separated: We definitely have played enough together to know what to expect from each other. He’s an elite player. I think it was necessary to change something out there, and obviously it worked pretty well tonight. Sometimes it goes like that. It gives you a little extra step. The coaches change the lines, so you know you’ve got to be better. There’s usually a reason why they mix the lines. Pretty good response through the lineup after those changes.
On why they had so much trouble getting to their game in the first 40 minutes and on what changed: That’s a great question. I guess if we knew the answer than we would come out right away. But you’ve got to give them credit, too. They played a pretty strong game. We know we have to ready right from the get go and have a better first period, but obviously tonight the third was huge and we got the win in OT.
On the mood in the locker room after two periods: We’re pretty confident. We definitely knew that we weren’t playing our best game. We’ve got to play way better, obviously. But we still had a pretty confident locker room, I felt like. We knew that it was a one-goal game. It wasn’t 4-0 or anything. We knew we were right there. It was only going to take one shot to tie the game. We came out the right way early in the third, so we got some momentum there. Obviously we tied the game and had the OT win.
On Raanta: He’s been so good all year. Yes, I’m not surprised at the level he’s playing at right now.
On Raanta stepping up in the playoffs: I’ve seen him give us a chance to win every single night. That’s all you can ask from the goalie. Freddie being out for a while now, so he’s been huge for us. He’s been very good. He gives us the chance to win every night.
On the confidence after the tying goal: Kind of the message in the locker room was to keep doing what we did in the third. That’s about it.
On what Cole has brought to the team: He’s a very, very solid D-man. He’s very good on the PK. He’s strong. It obviously doesn’t hurt that he’s been there and done that. He’s a pretty calm guy in the locker room. He’s been very good.
On the crossbars: That’s sometimes how it goes. But we were still down one goal. We knew we were right there. We just had to get one. Pretty good job to not start chasing the game. We were pretty patient to just wait for our chances. Very good that we tied the game.
On the biggest difference in the third period: The biggest difference was our mentality and how we played. We turned the puck over a little bit too much in the first and the second. We didn’t get the momentum, the forecheck going. In the third, right away, we went in there and started to play our game, which is obviously forechecking hard and making them turn the puck over. We shot the puck more in the third, too, so you always get a little momentum on those.
On keeping it at 1-0: Obviously it was big. The Rangers were playing good. I think we started to play, in the third period, we started to look like we wanted. They had a couple good looks and scored. You were just trying to do whatever you can to keep the puck out. Maybe a little bit of luck here and there, but you take that.
On this being the opportunity he was waiting for: Yeah, it’s kind of been where you’ve always been thinking ‘am I good enough to be playing these games?’ When you haven’t gotten the chance to play these, you’ve always been questioning yourself like ‘what if I get the chance to play?’ And now obviously it’s obviously been a lot of fun to play. As the first round started to go on, I started to get more comfortable. Now the stakes are getting higher and higher. You’re just trusting your own thing, and it’s been working pretty nicely. And obviously the team in front of me has been doing a great job, so it’s obviously a lot of fun to play these games right now.
On what overtime felt like: When it started, you had the feeling that it wasn’t going to take long. Obviously you never know what happens in OT, but the game started to open up a little bit more. They got their push in there early, and then [Jesper Fast] with that hit started where we scored. It’s another first one to get that overtime. It’s one puck at a time, and you just try to make sure you make the save and hope our guys can score.
On why it felt like OT was going to end quick: It just looked like that, how the game started and the OT. It just felt like both teams were trying to win. It wasn’t like we were going to stay in the neutral zone and dump the pucks in. You just had that feeling that it’s not going to take long. We could easily still be playing. How long, you never know. But you just had that feeling.
On the Canes hitting the post twice in the third: It’s a goalie’s best friend. Obviously when we were chasing the game and trying to get that first one in and Nino got that crossbar and then somebody else, that almost felt like we weren’t going to get it in today. But then obviously [Aho] made a nice play playing to the end. Shesterkin made a great first save, and [Aho] just stayed with it. It’s something that goalies need sometimes, to get the post and crossbar on your side.
On the biggest difference in the Canes’ game after the second period: I think we just started to get the pucks deep and actually got the forecheck going. It wasn’t just like dump the puck in and one guy goes there, it was more of the three forwards and D-men following the play. We started to get the pucks to the net, also. That’s something we’ve been doing the whole year. You could just see that the crowd got going. It was nice to see our guys get into our game and started to get chances at the end there. And obviously we scored the goal. It was a good change from the first two periods.
On how close he was to heading to the bench: It started to be in that time where [Brind’Amour] would pull me. It’s obviously nice when you don’t have to go there. You’re getting more nervous when you’re sitting on the bench and watching six guys try to score. It was obviously nice to get that.
On seeing that this team can survive a game like this in the playoffs: It kind of shows that we just keep fighting to the end. We keep pushing. We keep trying to play our game to the end. Whatever happens happens. In the playoffs you have to have a short memory, also. Obviously the third period and overtime gives us a lot of confidence going forward to the next game. We know what we have to do to be successful.
On this being exactly what they brought him here for: Yes. Precisely.
On the feeling of the OT winner: It felt good, obviously. Winning the game is what matters. Getting our first taste of OT is great. Turning it on in the third period and continuing that into OT was a great sign as well because we weren’t so happy with how the first two periods went.
On what he saw on his goal: We had some extended zone time there. I think Trocheck was up high and I was down low on the far-side dot, and it kind of bounced right to me. I was looking to pass it to someone but no one was anywhere dangerous, so I just threw it on net to see what happens. Hockey is a game of weird bounces, and it just happens to go in. It’s not the prettiest, but we’ll take it.
On the mood after the second period: I think that we pride ourselves in playing a direct, north game. We did not get to that to the level that we wanted to. There were some sporadic shifts in there, but generally speaking we were not happy with our first two periods. I think one thing that our team is good at is trying to be as objective as possible in assessing our game and realizing ‘hey, that wasn’t good enough. We didn’t get to where we needed to be. How do we fix it? There’s still time to turn this game around. Just because we’re losing 1-0 doesn’t mean the game is over. We have a period here. Let’s go do it the right way. Let’s fix the problem.’ I think we came out with a lot of desperation and the right mindset. You kind of see how that tide turned.
On who was the loudest in the room: We have a great team full of a lot of leaders, even some young guys who are great leaders. It wasn’t one person. It was leadership by committee, which I think is the best way to do it.
On if he remembers his first playoff goal and on how this compares: Well, that one was actually in the Stanley Cup Final. It wasn’t an OT winner, but I’ll take the finals goal over the second round any day. Goals are great, but as long as we win that’s what matters.
On Raanta: He was great for us. He kept us in that game early and, unfortunately, often. He was so good for us. He’s really great at recognizing that momentum and making those huge saves when you need them, those spectacular saves, but then all of the saves he’s supposed to, too. He kept us in that game for two full periods that we were not playing great. He gave us a chance to get back, which is as much as you can ask of from a goalie. He’s been fantastic for us. Enough can’t be said about how he’s playing.
On the crossbars and on what they’re thinking when they have those and on Raanta saying it felt like they maybe just weren’t going to get one: We’ve got to hold up our end of the bargain as players. He held up his end of the bargain and made some great saves keeping us in that. Regardless of how many saves the other goalie makes or how many posts we get or chances we get, ultimately it only matters if you score. We stepped up and [Aho] scored, and really it was a great play by all three of the forwards on that line. Great play by [Teravainen] back to Jarvis back to [Aho] and staying with it and not flying by the net. And he’s so great at that. Huge goal by those guys to give us a chance to get into OT and obviously continuing it into OT was huge, and it was all thanks to Raanta eventually.
On the celebration: A little claustrophobic, maybe. It’s great having all your boys jump on you and give you hugs. It’s great. My visor got fogged up, hair got in my face so I couldn’t see anything. But probably the only time I like that.
On him normally being the guy swarming the goal scorers: Correct. Usually I’m very happy for the goal scorer and I try to get to the goalie since without them we don’t have a chance. That held true today. But yes, certainly a role reversal today.
On good defense leading to the offense and on limiting New York: I think we did not do a good enough job at limiting them. I think they still had not a ton of chances, but certainly some glorious ones. Raanta made some unbelievable saves. When we’re at our best then yes, a great defense leads to offense. But also a great offense can lead to some great defense, too. When we’re hanging onto pucks and playing in the O-zone and all they can do is grab it and throw it down, that’s a staple of our game as well. It’s not one or the other, it’s both. I think a great defense leads to offense. I think a great offense leads to great defense. It’s all kind of rolled into one. When we’re rolling, we do that on both sides of the puck really well. We just didn’t get to that early, but we did get to it late which matters.
On this win with this team: It’s great. It’s not necessarily about this game, but it’s about building towards that journey going forward. We’re not here to win one game in the second round and be like ‘mission accomplished’. This is a great step forward. It showed our resilience as a team and our ability to check ourselves and fix our game and not have to wait until after the game and wait to make that adjustment in game two. We can adjust our game, which is a sign of a great team and a well-coached team. That’s good. That’s a great step forward for us.
On Brendan Smith giving him scouting reports on the Rangers: We’re pretty fortunate to have quite a few ex-Rangers on our team. We get a pretty good scouting report from the boys, [Smith] included for sure. It’s helpful. Guys always have tendencies, and any time you can get a little bit of a read on it or a little bit of a tendency it’s beneficial.