If you thought that this would be a fast-paced series, with both teams exchanging goals and going blow for blow, well I’m sorry to say that this has not been the case.
After a 2-1 overtime final in Game 1, Game 2 followed that performance up with an even stingier 2-0 final.
It wasn’t the prettiest game by any stretch of the imagination, but the Hurricanes were definitely playing better than they had through the first 40 minutes of Game 1.
However, they were still struggling to generate high-danger chances and sustained shot pressure. Carolina controlled the majority of play and had the definitive edge in o-zone possession, but they just weren’t making the most out of it.
But on the flip side of that, the heavy possession meant that the Rangers hardly could put any strong shifts together at 5-on-5.
Despite that, when the score is tied, all it takes is one shot.
And conveniently for Carolina, that mantra actually proved true for themselves.
Late in the second period, a heavy shift by the Rangers resulted in Brady Skjei being whistled for a four minute high-sticking penalty.
It came off of one of New York’s few sustained offensive possessions, and it set them up with a great chance to steal a lead.
But the Hurricanes’ penalty kill was stalwart and about three minutes through the kill, it broke out heading the other way.
On a 2-on-1 sprung by Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho raced the puck up the wing into the Rangers’ zone and fed a pass through the legs of Adam Fox and right onto the tape of Brendan Smith on the other side.
Smith buried the chance, and the Hurricanes had the lead.
So when it seemed like the tide was going to turn due to the failure to capitalize on earlier chances, Carolina punched back.
Following the shorthanded goal, the Rangers committed a penalty and soon after took another one, setting Carolina up with over a minute of a two-man advantage.
Carolina had the chance to extend the lead and capitalize on a great opportunity.
But yet again, the Hurricanes’ power play failed them. The 35th time it has come up empty in the 40 opportunities it has had in the postseason. It hasn’t yet cost them in this series, but the Canes need it to at least start looking competitive if not scoring.
But it came up empty, and so the Rangers got to hang around for a little while longer.
However, the third period saw Carolina put forth its best defensive effort of the postseason and they parked the metaphorical bus in their zone and they just kept forcing the Rangers back time and time again.
The Rangers pulled Igor Shesterkin with about two and a half minutes remaining and put together one last wave of effort against Carolina, but it came up empty and Aho put the statement goal away into the empty net with one second remaining.
Now Carolina is heading to New York with a 2-0 series lead, a similar position to where they were against the Boston Bruins in round one.
The matchup game has been huge for the Hurricanes all postseason and that hasn’t changed in round two with the Jordan Staal line completely neutralizing the Rangers’ top line through two game.
It will be interesting to see how the Hurricanes will try to contain them in Games 3 and 4.
The goals have not come easy, so the defense will have to stay strong, but the Canes need more from their forward group too.
A road win will be crucial for Carolina, and scoring more goals is the key to that.
Game 3 will see the puck drop at 3:30 on Sunday in New York at Madison Square Garden.