We all know concerning the Hurricanes’ fortress in Raleigh, N.C., the place they’ve gone 7-0 this postseason, however let me let you know, the Rangers are working inside a Fortress of Solitude on their facet that is likely to be of extra worth.
Because the Blueshirts will go into Game 7 on Monday evening at Carolina with goaltender Igor Shesterkin offering a rising and dramatic disparity in net when measured in opposition to the instantly floundering Antti Raanta, who was yanked very early in the second interval of the Blueshirts’ 5-2 Game 6 victory on the Garden on Saturday evening.
This second-round sequence might in truth come right down to location, location, location. The related piece of property, nevertheless, is likely to be not Carolina’s residence area, however slightly the neighborhood across the nets at both finish of the rink. If the Rangers can press that benefit, a visit to the convention finals to tackle the mighty Lightning will loom.
“Tonight was a very important game,” Shesterkin, apparently a grasp of the plain in any language, stated by way of a translator. “We had to win and that’s what we did.”
Shesterkin was all around the scoresheet, making 37 saves whereas selecting up a pair of assists and a two minute minor for interference. That may need been the equal of a Ron Hextall hat trick.
“Honestly,” Artemi Panarin stated by way of the translator, “it’s always great to have a goalie whose next step is to start scoring goals.”
While Shesterkin was sensible at his finish, Raanta was not fairly that, surrendering at the very least two, and perhaps even three marginal objectives on 13 photographs earlier than being pulled, with the Hurricanes down 3-0, simply 3:24 into the second interval, changed by Pyotr Kochetkov.
Raanta, after all, ascended to the No. 1 job when Freddie Andersen went down on April 16 with a lower-body damage. It doesn’t appear as if Andersen is recreation prepared. Thus, the Rangers will go into this sequence’ final confrontation with a notable edge in the game’s most important space.
Shesterkin’s affect Saturday was virtually instant. The netminder stopped Sebastien Aho on a breakaway at 7:04 and Teuvo Teravainen on the rebound moments earlier than Tyler Motte beat Raanta from the excessive slot off the counter assault at 7:22 for the swing purpose and 1-0 lead.
“What happened is I managed to predict [Aho’s] move there,” stated Shesterkin, who has recorded a .937 save share and a couple of.10 goals-against common because the fifth recreation of the primary spherical in opposition to Pittsburgh. “That gave me a burst or vitality and that purpose actually motivated.
“I just tried to do my job and stay in the game.”
The Rangers performed a sooner, extra up-tempo model of hockey in this one than they’ve at Carolina. They opened it up a bit, a bit extra keen to commerce probabilities than they’d been in Raleigh. When you could have Shesterkin in your facet, you are able to do that.
Maybe the membership additionally obtained a lift from the surprising return of winger Barclay Goodrow, who hadn’t performed since Game 1 of the primary spherical in opposition to the Penguins, when he sustained a suspected ankle damage. Maybe it was seeing the Mika Zibanejad line untethered by Jordan Staal’s checking line. Maybe it was the reunification of the Kid Line.
If there was one purpose, there have been seemingly dozens. But the Blueshirts have been as superior in this one because the Hurricanes have been in their Game 5 victory on Thursday. There was a lull in the second interval after Raanta was pulled and the ultimate minutes of the interval have been a nervous time for the Blueshirts, who have been pinned for shifts at a time for about the one time in the match.
It was then that Shesterkin picked up his interference penalty by obstructing Seth Jarvis in his pursuit of the puck. It was 4-2 at that time, after Chytil had struck once more on a backhand earlier than Vincent Trocheck was in a position to nudge residence a unfastened puck from across the net.
“We were so tired in the zone at that time that he probably took that penalty just to get a whistle,” head coach Gerard Gallant stated with tongue in cheek about Shesterkin. “No, he was excellent.
“He did for us what he’s been doing for us all year.”
This one turned nasty in the third interval as soon as Panarin scored the 5-2 purpose on the facility play at 7:43, with a number of scrums in entrance and in the corners. The Blueshirts stood up for each other — what else is new? — however by no means have been undisciplined about it, even when ex-Ranger Tony DeAngelo mindlessly flipped the puck into the net nicely after a whistle and thus drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
“I like a tough team and I like a tough game,” Gallant stated. “But at this time of the year, discipline is the most important thing.”
Well, goaltending, too.
Game 7, Monday in Raleigh.
Rangers versus ’Canes.
Shesterkin versus Raanta.