The Carolina Hurricanes looked to slam the door on what has been a relatively concerning trend in these playoffs - losing on the road.
The Boston Bruins won all three of their game at TD Garden in the first round, and while the Hurricanes have held remarkably strong at PNC Arena, one would think winning on the road will eventually become a must for a team looking to win a Stanley Cup.
That didn’t happen on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The New York Rangers scored early and held onto their lead until the final horn en route to their first win in this second-round series.
The story of the game for the Hurricanes will be their inability to capitalize on the power play. Just over one minute into the game, Ryan Lindgren gifted Carolina with an early chance to build momentum on that front, but they came up empty.
New York, however, didn’t come up empty on their first power play.
Brady Skjei got two minutes for holding Mika Zibanejad at 10:40 of the first period. One minute later, Zibanejad gave the Rangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Artemi Panarin dished out a gorgeous cross-seam pass to Zibanejad, who beat Antti Raanta short side to make it 1-0.
Carolina went onto control most of the play at 5-on-5 throughout the game, playing one of their best road games of the postseason as a result. Still, Vezina favorite Igor Shesterkin was on his game from start to finish and allowed his team to build on the one-goal lead early in period two.
The Rangers took advantage of Tony DeAngelo losing his stick, and 50-goal man Chris Kreider maneuvered to the front of the net to bury his sixth goal of the postseason and the tally that would go on to be the difference in the game.
Less than three minutes later, Nino Niederreiter flipped a seemingly harmless backhand shot on Shesterkin down the wing, but it fluttered under the arm of the young star goalie and ended up in the back of the net to cut the Rangers' lead in half with more than half of the game still yet to be played.
From there, the Hurricanes got two separate power-play opportunities, including north of 90 seconds of man-advantage time on fresh ice to start the third period, but they came up with next to nothing in the way of scoring chances.
That was particularly brutal when they had a chance to tie the game late in the third period after a Tyler Motte slashing penalty on Brett Pesce.
Carolina failed to cook anything up, the Rangers held onto their lead, and it was Motte who cleared a puck from his own zone right into the empty net with just over a minute left in the game to close things out and get the Rangers right back into the series with a game-three win.
As time expired, Max Domi felt it was necessary to crosscheck Lindgren, which led to a big scrum after the end of the game. That scrum included DeAngelo yelling at the Rangers bench and New York head coach Gerrard Gallant sharing some words with the Carolina defenseman, who had been booed by the Rangers faithful throughout the afternoon.
Gerard Gallant does not have the time or patience for Tony DeAngelo, it seems. Appears to tell him to 'shut the fuck up' pic.twitter.com/jV6ET31xH9— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 22, 2022
Tensions certainly ran high on Sunday, setting up for what should be a very interesting game four on Tuesday.
Game three was a must-win game on home ice for the Rangers, and they came through, but the Hurricanes are in desperate need of life on the road, and that will likely have to come by way of some sort of power-play success.
It’s back to the drawing board for Rod Brind’Amour and his group, who still holds an important 2-1 series lead.