The Carolina Hurricanes have devised a formula for success against the New York Rangers.
Now the Rangers have another problem to address or their season could end quickly in their August qualifying series.
The Hurricanes, riding the thrills of Andrei Svechnikov’s three-goal outing, look to close out the best-of-five series in Tuesday night’s Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
“The games come fast and furious, but the guys love to play,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
The hat trick Monday in Carolina’s 4-1 victory was the first for the franchise in 144 all-time postseason games. Svechnikov, 20, became the eighth player age 20 or younger with an NHL playoff hat trick.
“You sit back and go, ‘Wow,'” teammate Jordan Martinook said. “He can skate and shoot … and it’s fun to watch.”
The attention on Svechnikov after Game 2 is something those within the Carolina organization have seen brewing.
“He’s just getting better and better, and we’re really fortunate to have him,” Brind’Amour said. “I think he’ll get a few more (hat tricks) before his time is over in his career.”
Rangers coach David Quinn wishes he didn’t have to witness Svechnikov’s latest breakthrough so close.
“He’s quickly emerging as one of the best players in this league,” Quinn said.
Carolina has gone on to win a series in six of the seven times that the franchise has held a 2-0 series lead.
“We know the type of game we need to play, and I feel we’ve done that for the first two games,” Martinook said.
“I think we’ve got good chemistry,” Svechnikov said. “It’s a playoff game and more and more physical game.”
The Rangers have a streak of 21 consecutive playoff series with at least one victory, something in danger as they go into their third game across a four-day period. Until the Game 2 loss, they had won eight of their previous 12 playoff games when trailing in a series.
The Rangers have had eight players make NHL playoff debuts during this series, so the team is lacking in postseason experience.
New York has been slow to start in both games in Toronto, producing only seven shots on goal in the first period of Game 2 (and seven shots in the final period).
“They had some good chances the past two games and we managed it pretty well,” said Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek, who posted 23 saves Monday.
The Rangers swept four games from the Hurricanes during the regular season, averaging more than four goals per game in those outings. New York was 31-6-0 against Carolina in regular-season meetings dating to February 2011.
However, in recent days, the Rangers have failed to control the middle of the ice, among other things that have concerned Quinn.
“You’ve got to outskate people. You’ve got to outhit them,” Quinn said. “We’re not doing those things enough.”
New York’s goaltending situation seems unclear. Igor Shesterkin was listed as “unfit to play” for the second game in a row Monday, so that put veteran Henrik Lundqvist in net again. Shesterkin was part of the team’s surge prior to the season’s interruption in March, posting a 10-2-0 record.
Rangers forward Jesper Fast, who exited with an injury on the opening shift of Game 1, then sat out Game 2, is listed as day-to-day. The Rangers will have left winger Brendan Lemieux available after he sat out the first two games of the series to serve an NHL suspension for a regular-season transgression.
–Field Level Media