Preaching special teams, Hurricanes try to avoid sweep by Rangers

League: NHL

Posted on: 10 May, 2024 at 10:00 PM

Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's do-or-die time for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Down 3-0 in their Eastern Conference second-round series against the New York Rangers, the Hurricanes will try to stave off elimination when they host Game 4 Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.

All three games have been one-goal losses, most recently a 3-2 overtime defeat Thursday in Game 3.

"It hurts, you've got to be realistic," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said after the game. "They're probably as down as they're ever going to be. You've got to feel that. That's the keep-it-real part of it. But you've got to pick yourself up and come back tomorrow. We're still playing."

Special teams have been a struggle all postseason for the Hurricanes. The power play has scored just five goals on 30 opportunities and is 0-for-15 against the Rangers. On the penalty kill, they've allowed seven goals on 24 opposition opportunities.

Entering Friday's schedule, the 16.7 percent success rate with the man advantage and 70.8 percent rate short-handed are each second-worst among the remaining teams in the playoffs.

"It's a broken record," captain Jordan Staal said. "Obviously, our special teams have got to be better. Our power play has to sneak in a couple of goals, or just a goal or two to get us in a better position to end games.

"The 5-on-5 game has been good. Have we completely buried teams? No, they're a good team too. There are a few things on the special teams side I think we can get better at."

Jake Guentzel and Seth Jarvis share the team lead with four goals in the playoffs. Guentzel has scored three of his goals over the past two games while Jarvis hasn't tallied since Game 1 against the Rangers.

New York, meanwhile, is on the verge of a second straight series sweep thanks to Artemi Panarin's overtime heroics Thursday. It was Panarin's fourth game-winner of the postseason, tied for most by a Rangers player in the playoffs all-time.

"This is a resilient group and they've been in these situations before," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Sending messages that we were doing the right things. We're going to finish this just by what we've been through and the way we're playing the game."

The Rangers have been fueled by strong special teams. They're 10-for-29 on the power play, an efficiency rate of 34.5 percent that ranks third in the NHL, while their penalty kill is nearly unbeatable with a 93.8 percent success rate, allowing just two goals on 32 opposition opportunities.

Igor Shesterkin has been stellar between the pipes for New York with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage through seven games.

"They come out hot in their building and they sent a few flurries at us and Shesty just keeps kicking," Rangers center Vincent Trocheck said. "I think we expect it at this point. Obviously, we don't want to rely on him too much but when you have him back there, he makes a really big difference in the game."

--Field Level Media