The New York Rangers now hold a solid 2-0 series lead on the Carolina Hurricanes following Vincent Trocheck’s double overtime winner. They now have a 6-0 start to the postseason, the first time since 1994, following the thrilling double overtime winning power play goal.

Artemi Panarin contributed 3 points, Alexis Lafreniere scored twice, and Igor Shesterkin made 54 saves (another 1994 reference). There were many heroes last night, even if Carolina dictated play for a large portion of the game, and it’s getting harder to ignore that it feels like there is something different about this Rangers team.

Despite what some people might say, this wasn’t a game where the Canes had over 100 shot attempts and the Rangers barely survived. The Blueshirts were able to get a lot of offense going on their own as well with 39 shots and well over 80 shot attempts, giving them a good pace with Carolina. The Canes deserve a lot of credit, blocking over 40 shot attempts, making the shot totals seem more lopsided.

Special teams and Igor Shesterkin were again the difference, with the Rangers getting the game tying and winning goals with the man advantage while killing all of Carolina’s powerplay opportunities yet again. Some may say special teams don’t matter. But they do. They do.

Despite giving up 3 goals in the first two periods, Shesterkin was again locked in. He had no chance on the 2 high slot deflections, and the third was a breakdown in coverage and a picture perfect shot by Jake Guentzal. Luckily for the Rangers, this is not January Igor in net, as he would go on to stop 32 shots from the third period until the end of the 2OT period.

Mika Zibanejad had “just” the primary assist on the game winner, a rare “off night” for him, but make no mistake, he is as locked in as any player on this team right now. Everything he did away from the puck, the way he did his one-on-one battles, the way he dangled multiple times and had rush chances with zone entries, Mika Zibanejad is a completely different player than how he was playing in the regular season. Sometimes it just goes to show, the playoffs can completely change the narrative of how your season went.

This version of Mike Zibanejad has the Rangers 10 wins away from winning immortality in New York. With the series shifting to Raleigh on Thursday, look for him to be even more of a factor. Rod Brind’Amour can only match one big Ranger line at a time, and he’ll more than likely try to shut down the Panarin line. With 11 points in 6 playoff games, that may create a prime opportunity for Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Jack Roslovic.

As the series shifts to Carolina, the Hurricanes will come out flying and desperate. There is a big difference between a 2-1 series lead and a 3-0 series lead. If the Rangers can neuter the Canes out of the gate, then they may just cut another leg out from under them.


Mentioned in this article:

More About: