Rangers win Game 1 thriller, defeat Hurricanes 4-3

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers decisively won the special teams battle and thus were able to edge the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The Rangers were perfect on both ends of the special teams. They were 2-for-2 on the power play and now have eight power-play goals in the past four postseason games. They were also a terrific 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

“It was a tight game five on five … special teams is going to be huge for us,” Mika Zibanejad explained postgame.

Zibanejad led the way offensively for the Blueshirts with three points (two goals, one assist), giving him a team-high 10 points through New York’s first five playoff games. Artemi Panarin scored his third game-winning goal of these playoffs and Vincent Trocheck scored a goal for the fourth consecutive game.

Igor Shesterkin made 22 saves in the winning effort. It was the 28th consecutive playoff game in which he’s allowed three goals or fewer. 

Sebastian Aho registered had two assist for Carolina, and Frederik Andersen made 19 saves on 23 shots.

Related: Rangers vs. Hurricane: schedule, results, TV info for 2nd-round playoff series

New York Rangers 4 — Carolina Hurricanes 3

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The first period of Game 1 started off with high energy and fast-paced action. Zibanejad opened the scoring at 2:46, his second goal of the playoffs, giving the Rangers an early 1-0 lead. Jack Roslovic burst down right wing, carried the puck behind the goal line before feeding Zibanejad in front.

It took the Hurricanes just 62 seconds to respond. Jaccob Slavin’s shot hit Alexis Lafreniere and bounced high through a maze of players past Shesterkin at 3:48 to tie the game 1-1. 

The game took another turn after a roughing penalty was called on former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. It took the Rangers just nine seconds to score on the power play. Zibanejad netted his second goal of the game at 10:05, following a beautiful no-look pass from Chris Kreider. 

This goal not only regained the lead for the Rangers at 2-1, but also marked a significant milestone for Zibanejad, tying him with Rod Gilbert for the third-most multipoint games in Rangers playoff history.

“As an offensive guy, you want to get involved. When you’re able to help your team win, it’s a good feeling,” Zibanejad said.

Kreider also reached a personal milestone by recording his 68th career playoff point, surpassing Gilbert for the third most points in Rangers postseason history. Kreider finished with two assists Sunday.

New York continued to showcase its dominance on the power play later in the period. At 16:28, Trocheck scored his fourth goal of the playoffs to extend the Rangers lead to 3-1, which was the score at the first intermission.

The scoreless second period took a defensive turn. The Rangers did an excellent job blocking shots and passes, and limiting scoring chances for the Hurricanes. Through two periods, the Blueshirts held the Hurricanes to only 12 shots on goal.

The Hurricanes made their push in the third period, though. Martin Necas scored his second goal of the postseason at 2:48, beating Shesterkin five-hole after a defensive breakdown by New York.

However, the Rangers responded with a goal of their own at 8:21. Panarin scored his third goal of the playoffs, off the rush on left wing, pushing New York’s lead back to two goals at 4-2. It’s a goal Andersen clearly would like to have back, one that leaked through him after he had a clear look at the shot.

As the final minutes of the game approached, the Hurricanes pulled Andersen to add an extra attacker. This strategy paid off when Seth Jarvis scored his fourth goal of the playoffs, off a scramble at 18:13, bringing the Canes within one goal at 4-3 and reigniting their hopes for a comeback.

Tension heightened even further when Trocheck received a delay of game penalty at 19:19, giving Carolina a crucial 6-on-4 power play opportunity. However, just five seconds into the power play, Andrei Svechnikov was penalized for tripping Ryan Lindgren, ending Carolina’s man advantage. This sequence helped the Rangers hold on to their lead and ultimately secure the thrilling 4-3 victory.

“Fans were rocking tonight. That’s obviously a huge part of getting our adrenaline going,” Trocheck said. “Credit to them for getting us into it early”

The Rangers look to remain undefeated in the postseason and take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-7 series when they host the Hurricanes in Game 2 on Tuesday at MSG.

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