Penalties Kill the Canes as New York Takes a 2-0 Lead in the Series with a 2OT Win

Carolina squanders a pair of power plays in overtime before Trocheck wins it on the power play for New York to complete an incredible night for Shesterkin.
May 7, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) goes head first
May 7, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) goes head first / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes and the New York Rangers went to war in the first game of their series on Sunday night. Special teams were the difference in the game, as New York scored twice on the power play and killed all five penalties to win Game 1 4-3. With one more game in New York before returning to Raleigh, the Canes aimed to even the series with a better effort in Game 2.

The Hurricanes returned to Frederik Andersen in the net after a tough night in Game 1. They also opted to healthy scratch Evgeny Kuznetsov, allowing Max Comtois to make his postseason debut. The Rangers stuck with Igor Shesterkin, who tried to keep his perfect start to the postseason intact.

Just like in Game 1, the Rangers were the first team to strike. Alexis Lafreniere took advantage of Frederik Andersen losing sight of the puck, snapping a shot over Andersen's shoulder to get the scoring going midway through the period. Andrei Svechnikov didn't make many new fans in New York after running into Igor Shesterkin behind the net, but the Canes were able to successfully kill their first penalty of the series.

The end of the first period belonged to the Hurricanes. First, Jake Guentzel redirected a shot from Sebastian Aho into the net with less than five minutes left in the period to breathe some life into the team. Then, with both sides playing 4-on-4, Dmitry Orlov snuck behind the defense to redirect a Brady Skjei shot past Igor Shesterkin with five seconds left to give the Canes their first lead of the series. It was a stunning turn of events to get the team into the break up by a goal.

The momentum carried into the second period for the Hurricanes. Carolina threw everything they could at the New York net. The only problem was that Igor Shesterkin was not allowing anything past him. Andrei Svechnikov had the best chance, glancing a shot off Shesterkin's shoulder and the crossbar. To no one's surprise, that meant New York was getting the next goal. Adam Fox found Alexis Lafreniere streaking to the net for his second goal of the night to tie it.

After New York took control during the middle part of the period, the Hurricanes snatched it back late in the period. Sebastian Aho picked up his third assist of the night by hitting Jake Guentzel in the slot for Guentzel's second goal to regain the lead. Aho did a great job of winning a battle along the boards before finding his linemate for the big goal.

While the Hurricanes were much better on the penalty kill in Game 2, the Rangers' power play worked it back even early in the third period. Frederik Andersen made the initial stop on Vincent Trocheck, but Andersen's frantic movements to find the puck jarred it loose. Chris Kreider was there to pounce on the loose puck, burying it to tie the game at three.

For the remainder of the third period, it became an exhibition of strong goaltending from Frederik Andersen and Igor Shesterkin. It continued into overtime after neither goalie allowed the go-ahead goal for the remainder of regulation. Both netminders came up with big stops in overtime, including a few stops on Mika Zibanejad by Andersen.

With the game hitting the second overtime, the Canes had a golden opportunity to win it on the power play, but the Rangers came up with the kill without much resistance. A cross-checking penalty by Brady Skjei a few minutes later set the Rangers up for the eventual winner. Vincent Trocheck slid a bouncing puck under Frederik Andersen to secure the win and the 2-0 lead in the series for New York.

This loss felt like a gut punch. The Hurricanes were the better team for most of the night, yet they now find themselves in a 2-0 hole. Special teams continue to be the story of the series. The penalty kill was better, but they allowed a pair of goals at the worst times. The power play has been practically non-existent through two games. The Canes are now 0-for-10 in the series with just ten shots. New York is 4-for-9. This is one of two reasons the Rangers lead the series.

The other reason for the Canes' deficit is goaltending, and it's less about Frederik Andersen's play than it is Igor Shesterkin's. Andersen was good down the stretch in Game 2, but it was one bad goal that hurt the team once again. In Game 1, it was Artemi Panarin's goal that squeaked through him. In Game 2, it was Chris Kreider's goal after Andersen panicked.

Meanwhile, Igor Shesterkin was unbelievable. The Canes seemed to find the recipe for success early in the game, but they got away from it. Shestekrin's best stretch of the night was actually late in the third period when he stopped three chances short-handed. For all of the great chances the Canes had, Shesterkin was there to stop them and keep his win streak going.

If there's one silver lining to the game, it's that the Canes' top stars had a good night. Sebastian Aho has five assists in two games after his three-assist performance. Jake Guentzel picked up a pair of goals. Andrei Svechnikov, despite a pair of penalties, had a solid night. Brady Skjei and Tony DeAngelo were strong, picking up an assist each.

The series shifts to Raleigh for the next two games, giving the Canes a chance to feed off the PNC Arena crowd as they try to get back into the series. The series has started similarly to the 2022 tilt, with the home team taking the first two games. In that series, it was the Canes going up 2-0 before New York won Games 3 and 4. Could we be in for the same result with the roles reversed?