After dropping back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden, the Carolina Hurricanes had a point to prove in Thursday night’s game-five date with the New York Rangers on home ice.
In front of a ravenous PNC Arena crowd, the Hurricanes put together what might have been their best complete game of the series. In doing so, they took care of business in a must-win game to take a 3-2 second-round series lead back to New York for game six on Saturday.
Let’s talk about last night.
It was an impressive showing on a huge stage from Carolina’s youngest skater, rookie Seth Jarvis.
When he was on the ice at 5-on-5, the Hurricanes produced six high-danger shot attempts, the best mark among all of Carolina’s forwards, and only saw two high-danger shots go the other way.
Of course, the metrics will not be what’s remembered from his effort. Instead, it’ll be his gorgeous royal road pass that led to the game-winning goal on the power play.
Man, moments after Jarvis picks up a stellar helper, he's headed down the tunnel.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) May 27, 2022
Incredible defensive effort, but unfortunately he winds up with a stick right in the mouth for it. pic.twitter.com/vzOe5ma5bv
Jarvis’ defensive play broke up what very nearly was a game-tying goal for the Rangers in the second period, taking a stick to face from Ryan Strome’s follow-through as a result.
He returned to the ice mere moments after gushing blood from his mouth.
His valiant return to the game was something that caught the eye of his teammates and his head coach.
“He’s banged up,” said Rod Brind’Amour of Jarvis. “It’s not pretty. But I give him a lot of credit. This kid is growing on me every day. You watch it. It’s pretty impressive.”
Jarvis stepping up and playing the way he did in a must-win playoff game was huge for the team and himself.
The Turning Point
Carolina’s excellent effort and all of the narratives spawned from it were seemingly for not when the Rangers scored a go-ahead goal in the second period.
And then, it turned out they didn’t.
Strome appeared to have scored a massive road goal in a series dominated by home teams, but shortly after the celebrating subsided for the Rangers, the play went under review for offsides.
The challenge was successful.
The goal is overturned after a successful challenge by Carolina. New York was offside.— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) May 27, 2022
Bravo, Chris Huffine and Mike Brown. pic.twitter.com/P5VNSQMmzQ
The goal was, at the time, hugely deflating. But it very quickly became a turning point for a very different reason and in a very different direction.
“Obviously, if we get behind that’s a different game,” Brind’Amour said. “We had just come down and had a great shift. I think we hit the post down there. And then they come down and you’re like ‘oh man, is it going to be one of these nights?’ But thankfully it obviously wasn’t.”
That sinking feeling of it being one of “those nights” certainly started to set in, especially after two brutal nights in New York that saw the momentum of the series sway in favor of the Rangers.
“Yeah, it’s huge, Svechnikov remarked. “That would be 2-1 they would be up. It would be a really different game. But they said no and all the guys said ‘let’s go,’ and from that, we started playing our game.”
Shortly after that ordeal, the Hurricanes took the lead and locked things down in a dominant fashion in the third period before Svechnikov iced the game.
In these playoffs series, every moment can wind up being a defining moment. On Thursday, the disallowed goal was a catalyst for an effort that delivered a substantial blow to the Rangers.
A Complete Game
For what feels like the first time all postseason, and especially the first time in this second-round series, the Hurricanes put together an effort to be proud of in all three areas of their game.
It started in the first period when a pair of penalties was an early cause for concern. Andrei Svechnikov boarded Tyler Motte just over 11 minutes into the game. Carolina’s killers took care of things with relative ease, and in the final moments of the kill, the power kill went into full effect.
A turnover from Jacob Trouba in the neutral zone led to a swift transition attack from Jordan Staal and Vincent Trocheck, and Trocheck’s elevated finish set the tone for what would go on to be a dominant showing from the Hurricanes.
For Trocheck, it was a much-needed stroke of offensive fortune. His big goal was his first point of the series.
Carolina rode that wave to 5-on-5 dominance through 40 minutes. In each of the first two periods, the Hurricanes out-chanced the Rangers five to two. While that strong effort didn’t lead to an even-strength goal until the third period, perhaps it did carry over to the power play, where they did what was thought to be impossible.
Score a goal.
In a 1-1 game, the Hurricanes came up with a hugely-needed power-play goal. Seth Jarvis found Tervainen with a perfect cross-seam pass, and Teravainen roofed a quick shot by Igor Shesterkin. The goal gave Carolina a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Then, with the Rangers trying to get the game-tying goal in the latter half of the third period, a successful zone clearing resulted in the puck finding its way to Svechnikov in the natural zone. With a full head of speed, Svech broke a drought of his own - a point drought that spanned five games before he slid a breakaway try through the legs of Shesterkin to pad the lead and deal a final blow to a Rangers team that had struggled to penetrate Carolina’s in-zone defense all night.
Thursday night was a remarkably promising win, not only because it saw the Canes come within a game of an Eastern Conference Final berth but also because of how they did it. It was a display of dominance at 5-on-5, the power play, and the penalty kill they hadn’t had in the second round.
One big question still remains, though.
Can they do it at MSG?