Laviolette, Rangers taking it ‘1 game at a time’ after losing 2-straight to Hurricanes

Rangers Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jordan Martinook (48) and New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck, right, battle for the puck in the second period during Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Monday, May 13, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Teams that have gone up 3-0 in a series are 203-4 all-time in Stanley Cup Playoff history. The Rangers had a chance to make it 204-4 Monday night and ultimately came up short, falling 4-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes, and now hold a 3-2 lead in the series.

Although, the Blueshirts have a long way to go before breaking out the panic button. 

“We weren’t sharp,” Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We gave up way too many chances in the first period and kind of died off after that, just wasn’t a night we were looking to have.”

With their backs against the wall, Carolina set the tone of the game immediately, something the Rangers have constantly dictated throughout the series. While New York’s Igor Shesterkin was able to neutralize the threat of a bombarding Canes offense, the Rangers were unable to counter.

They would find a punch with their lone goal scored by Jacob Trouba short-handed to go up 1-0 in the second. It was not until the third period that Carolina was finally able to break the seal and tie the game behind Jordan Staal, who caught the Rangers in a line change.

“Anytime you don’t play up to your capabilities you get concerned about that, but I also know that this group has had games like that before and they responded,” Laviolette said. “There’s accountability that goes with that from themselves and from us and what we bring.”

A 3-0 series lead has provided New York the luxury of being able to play stress-free. While this can be seen as a positive for some teams, the lack of a killer instinct has now given the Canes a newfound sense of urgency. The true mark of a championship team is how they respond to adversity, and opening up the playoffs on a seven-game win streak is not exactly an environment that breeds such a thing.

The Hurricanes, a team forced to play do-or-die hockey the past two games, has made championship-level adjustments to thwart the Rangers attack. After the Blueshirts went 4-for-9 on the man advantage to open the series, Carolina has held New York without a power play goal the past three games, going a combined 0-8.

Another concerning trend as this series progresses for the Rangers is the Canes’ offensive zone pressure. New York has been out-shot in every game this series. While this can be attributed to the two different offensive approaches for the respective teams, it appears the Carolina approach is starting to wear Shesterkin down. The netminder has now faced 158 shots through five games in the series. The netminder for New York has endured a constant onslaught of shots and pressure that have seemed to have finally taken a toll.

It is up to Laviolette and the Rangers to get back on track in what will be a raucous Carolina crowd on Wednesday night. Although Laviolette is confident his team will be ready.

“This group has always responded when we don’t play to our potential,” Laviolette said. “No sense in worrying about the game that just happened. We have to focus on the next game.” 

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