Rangers to face different Hurricanes goalie in Game 3 of playoff series

NHL: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Rangers attempt to put a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, they’ll do so against a new goalie.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour announced after the morning skate that Pyotr Kochetkov will make his first start in this postseason, replacing Frederik Andersen.

It’s not a major surprise considering Andersen has played a lot since returning from a blood-clotting disorder that sidelined him for four months this season. Andersen had started each of the first seven postseason games for Carolina, including the double-overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

“Freddie’s played really well, but he’s also played a lot,” Brind’Amour explained. “I think giving him a little rest is the best thing.”

Andersen and Kochetkov alternated starts after Andersen returned March 7. The 34-year-old was 9-1-0 after returning from his health scare and Kochetkov was 7-2-1.

Playing more in the postseason, Andersen is 4-3 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. He allowed eight goals on 62 shots in a pair of 4-3 losses to the Rangers in this second-round series.

Related: Rangers expecting fight from host Hurricanes in Game 3

Pyotr Kochetkov replaces Frederik Andersen, will start Game 3 against Rangers

NHL: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Though Andersen is more a veteran, the Rangers are quite familiar with Kochetkov too. The 24-year-old started two of three games against the Rangers this season, making 28 saves in a 6-1 Carolina win at The Garden on Jan. 2 and losing a goalie duel to Igor Shesterkin in a 1-0 Rangers win in Raleigh on March 12.

As a rookie in 2022, Kochetkov appeared in two games against the Rangers in their second-round playoff series. He relieved Antti Raanta and stopped 10 of 12 shots in New York’s 5-2 win at home in Game 6. Then Kochetkov relieved Raanta again in Game 7 at home and took the loss after he allowed three goals on 12 shots when the Rangers clinched the series with a 6-2 win.

He is 1-3 with a 4.31 GAA and .858 save percentage in five Stanley Cup Playoff appearances in his career.

However, Kochetkov is coming off a solid season, when he was called upon to make 40 starts because of Andersen’s injury and Rantta’s ineffective play. Kochetkov finished 23-13-4 with a 2.33 GAA, .911 save percentage and four shutouts this season.

For the Rangers, the goalie change means little. The Blueshirts lead the best-of-7 series 2-0 and have won six straight games to begin the 2024 playoffs. They’ve scored four goals in five of the games, including three straight, and had three in their other contest. Their power play has been lethal, with 10 goals in the past five playoff games and four in this series, including the tying and winning goals in Game 2.

Their might be a slight memory twitch, though, for the Rangers. Last postseason, they won the first two games in the first round against the New Jersey Devils, then lost the series in seven games after the Devils switched from Vitek Vanecek to Akira Schmid between the pipes.

The Rangers have the look of a far different team in these playoffs, though. But it remains to be seen if the goalie change is a turning point in this series.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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