It has taken four games, the last two at the Garden with exclamation marks, for the Rangers to shatter the myth of Carolina superiority.
Now the Blueshirts must win a game at the Hurricanes’ Fortress in Raleigh. It would be foolish to bet against them.
“I think the never-die mentality was on this team from day one and I’ve kind of felt that since I came on the team a few months ago,” said Andrew Copp, who took over the deadline, after the 4: 1 Rangers triumph in Game 4 in the Garden on Tuesday, squaring the conference semifinals two to all. “There’s definitely a lot of faith and self-confidence in it.”
This was such a perfect performance as the Rangers showed in this tournament in which they recovered from a 3-1 deficit against the Penguins and are now coming back from a 2-0 deficit against Carolina.
They have their chance to take their first series lead of the playoffs in Thursday’s Game 5 in Raleigh, where the Hurricanes are 6-0 this postseason and 14-3 in their last 17 postseason games, but haven’t been able to shake the blueshirts in either of those first two games decided 2-1 in overtime and 2-0 in an empty net.
“Maybe we didn’t produce a lot of offense, but we did a lot of good things in the first two games,” said Copp, whose great cross-ice diagonal feed set up Frank Vatrano for the power-play snipe that gave the blueshirts a 1-0- Lead after 13:31 of the first period before later scoring a goal of his own in the third period. “Now the boys are feeling a little bit better.
“We need to take that momentum to Carolina.”
Momentum in this game was generated by Igor Shesterkin, who put the indelible mark on the game with a spectacular glove save against Brett Pesce after just 1:16 of backdoor play. There was an equally stunning stop at 2:00 in the second, Shesterkin somehow flashed the right pad to thwart Teuvo Teravainen just outside the door and hold a 2-0 lead.
“It looks like he’s making these big saves in every game,” said Ryan Lindgren, who not only gutted that in a good way, but expanded his repertoire with a few assists in games where he fired the puck into the net. let attack . “He’s just so stable back there.”
Momentum was also generated when Jacob Trouba wiped out Max Domi on the boards at 11:38 in what was a goalless game played at a frenetic pace for the most part. The hit was legal. Carolina’s Steven Lorentz felt the need to come to Domi’s rescue and drop Trouba’s gloves. His knee-jerk reaction earned an instigator penalty and put the blueshirts on the power play.
Rangers hadn’t scored on their first power play but rarely looked better, snapping the puck briskly from side to side, low to high and back again for nearly two full minutes, but failed to break through against Antti Raanta . This time the second Blueshirts unit benefited from Vatrano’s right-wing extremism. It was 2-0 just 2:11 later when Fox deflected Lindgren’s left-hander.
“That was big and changed the course of the game a bit,” said Copp, whose right winger ended the goal in the 11:10 third goal. “If they take that penalty and we capitalize.”
Fox, who upped his game in the postseason, had an excellent night playing 10:45 on the first night, 9:27 on the second, and 26:46 on the night. The connection between Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider was imposing and exhilarating, the Strome line upped the pace and the bottom six played their part. No small roles, no small players.
Kreider used a football-style kick after losing his racquet to keep the puck deep in the Carolina zone in the sequence where Fox scored the 2-0 goal. Zibanejad went to the net to hit home a loose puck that slid through Raanta to put it 3-0 at 16:48 of the second.
The Big Dogs came to play, the Rangers came to play.
The Rangers have obviously bent at times this series. They’ve been kept in their zone too many times. They had breaks in both the second and third periods in this game. You are not perfect. But when held down, they grab the middle like they did when John Tortorella was behind the bench. They fight for every free puck. They give as well as they get. you compete. How about the growl that Alexis Lafreniere brings to the ice every shift?
As the playoffs progress, Rangers morph into Black-and-Blueshirts, The Sequel.
Carolina still has home ice. The hurricanes don’t shrink like they do in the pool. But the Rangers are coming. They want to do business.
Don’t bet against them.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/25/rangers-have-shattered-idea-hurricanes-are-superior-team/ Rangers have smashed the idea that Hurricanes are a superior team