The Rangers Push the Hurricanes to the Brink with Another OT Win in Game 3

Panarin's goal early in overtime gives the Rangers a commanding 3-0 series lead, putting the Canes' season in jeopardy with a 3-2 decision at PNC Arena.
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Three
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Three / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Game 2 was a big missed opportunity for the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite leading for a good chunk of the game, the Canes fell 4-3 in double overtime on Tuesday night to fall behind 2-0 in the series. With the series moving to Raleigh on Thursday, the hope was that a change of scenery in the friendly confines of PNC Arena would give Carolina the juice to get back into the series.

Pyotr Kochetkov made his first start of the postseason for the Hurricanes, replacing Frederik Andersen after he suffered losses in the first two games. Kochetkov hadn't played since winning his final start of the regular season in Chicago on April 14. Igor Shesterkin was back in the net for the Rangers, but the big news was the return of Filip Chytil to the lineup. Chytil hadn't played since November 2 after he suffered an injury in a collision with Jesper Fast.

The Hurricanes started the game well despite the whistles coming out quite a bit. They were all over the Rangers to start the game, forcing Igor Shesterkin to make some timely stops. The top line would strike first, just past the midway point. Andrei Svechnikov, who was a one-man gang in the opening 20 minutes, won a battle for the puck, sending it to Dmitry Orlov. With little hesitation, Orlov found Jake Guentzel for the redirection at the front of the net to get the Canes going with Guentzel's third goal in two games.

The Rangers started to turn the game around in the second period, with their penalty kill playing a major part in it. A collision between Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho on the power play allowed Mika Zibanejad to exit the zone with speed. Chris Kreider won a race up the ice against Brent Burns, allowing him to tip Zibanejad's pass between Pyotr Kochetkov's pads to tie the game. The Rangers had at least two more great short-handed chances in the following minutes, but nothing would beat Kochetkov as the teams entered the third period tied.

New York would get one early in the third period, silencing PNC Arena and casting doubts on the Canes' future. Alexis Lafreniere buried one from the slot after the Rangers executed a face-off play to perfection, giving New York its first lead of the night. The Canes would be unsuccessful on their fifth power play of the game, giving way for Pyotr Kochetkov to head for the bench. With the extra attacker, Andrei Svechnikov jumped on a loose puck, scoring with 1:36 left to force overtime with a top-shelf snipe.

Unlike Tuesday night, things would be finished very early. Dmitry Orlov lost the puck, allowing Vincent Trocheck to jump on it. Trocheck found Artemi Panarin, who redirected it under Pyotr Kochetkov's blocker-side arm, giving the Rangers their third one-goal win of the series, all but securing their spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Ladies and gentlemen, the singer is warming up to play the Hurricanes off. This was their best chance to get back into the series. They failed to capitalize on it, and now their season could end as early as Saturday if they can't find a way to extend the series. Simply put, I'm at a loss for words to describe how awful this feels.

All anyone has been able to talk about is the Hurricanes' power play and how out of sync it is. On the one hand, New York had the third-best penalty kill in the league in the regular season. On the other hand, the Canes were great on the power play in the first round and owned the second-best group in the league through 82 games. In three games against the Rangers, they have cost the Hurricanes two games. The momentum in this game shifted when Chris Kreider scored short-handed.

It was reported after the game that Pyotr Kochetkov wouldn't speak with the media. I can't help but feel bad for him. Kochetkov started this game after sitting on the bench for almost a month, tasked with trying to get his team back into the series, and I thought he did everything asked of him. The three goals can't be placed on him, and he made some huge stops when the guys in front of him allowed the Rangers to run roughshod in the second period. He made a poke check on Chris Kreider in the dying seconds of regulation that helped give the Canes a chance to force overtime. The fact that he shoulders the responsibility despite it not being his fault proves to me that he cares, and I'd expect to see a stronger version of himself in Game 4, should he get the start.

Right now, there is only one line that is generating any offense for the Hurricanes. It's the same thing we saw at the end of the regular season, too. Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho, and Jake Guentzel are being asked to carry things offensively in the series. They've done a good job of producing, but it would be nice to see someone else help out. Combined, the top line has 13 points in the series. The rest of the team has 11. Guentzel has three of the team's eight goals. Aho has six assists. No one else has more than two. While each game has been tight, the Rangers have gotten more from their entire roster.

Saturday night may be it. If the Rangers win, the Hurricanes' season will come to an end with a sweep for the second straight season. It's not impossible to come back from down 3-0, but the odds aren't in the Canes' favor. I think it would be a mistake to turn away from Pyotr Kochetkov after his game on Thursday. None of that matters if the rest of the team doesn't show up.