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Rangers have no answers after hurricanes come third

Ian Cole says it’s a strength of the Hurricanes to be objective in their self-assessment. After two periods on Wednesday evening, the conclusion of that objective analysis was clear: not good enough.

“They know what we didn’t do right,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said after his team’s 2-1 win over the Rangers. “They’re sitting on the couch talking about it.”

For 40 minutes, the Rangers appeared to be on their way to a complete win in Game 1 of the second-round playoff series. They had dominated the puck, holding the Hurricanes for long stretches without a shot, as Carolina’s forecheck game never got going. That it was only a 1-0 lead was largely due to Antti Raanta’s strong performance in the net for Carolina.

Heading into the third period, Brind’Amour changed his front lines, but later credited a shift in mindset for what became a push the Rangers were unable to overcome.

“I don’t think it was the changes,” he said. “It was just the attitude, the way we played that period. When you’re down you know you have to improve your game.”

The numbers from the last 20 minutes of regulation, via Natural Stat Trick, show the Hurricanes led in shots (10-4), scoring opportunities (13-6) and risky opportunities (6-3).

When Nino Niederreiter and Sebastian Aho both hit the iron, it looked like the Rangers might be able to escape. But this was a relentless wave.

The forecheck that was missing early on was there, in spades. The Rangers only got their first shot of the third period on Raanta after about 11 minutes. The puck lived in their own end.

“I didn’t think we had it deep enough,” said Mika Zibanejad. “We came out of our zone, but they regrouped pretty quickly and they’re a fast team. That is a very good team that we play against. Let’s not forget that.”

No one will now.

Not after Aho’s late goal evened the game and not after Cole won it for the Hurricanes in extra time. Aho described Carolina’s room as “pretty confident” during the second break, well aware that the Rangers had missed their chances to blow the game open.

“We knew it was a one-goal game,” said Aho. “It wasn’t 4-0 or anything. We knew we were there, it only took one shot to tie the game.”

Nothing about the way Carolina played in the third period came as a surprise. The prediction was a focus on the series, and the Rangers were certainly aware of that. For 40 minutes they thwarted it.

But in the end that wasn’t long enough. By the time the third break came, the momentum was on Carolina.

“The message in the locker room was just keep doing what we did in the third,” said Aho.

That turned out to be very easy.

#Rangers #answers #hurricanes

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