Rangers in an 0-2 hole as Carolina looks for series sweep

NHL Hockey

The Rangers’ playoff hopes could be over quickly.

A popular pick to advance into the round of 16 and possibly beyond, the Rangers are facing elimination in Game 3 (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network) down 2-0 in their best-of-five qualifying round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Playing games back-to-back means New York’s run could last less than four days.

”Uncharted territory, for sure,” defenseman Marc Staal said. ”Get a good night’s sleep, wake up and get ready to play again. That’s all you can do.”

Only one of 56 teams down 2-0 in a best-of-five NHL playoff series went on to win it, though there haven’t been any best-of-fives since 1986. Getting more offense would be a nice start for the Rangers, who are 1 for 11 on the power play and not much better at even strength.

”We’ve just got to continue working, getting pucks and bodies to the net,” forward Chris Kreider said.

The Rangers have been without goaltender Igor Shesterkin for the first two games, but Henrik Lundqvist isn’t the reason they’ve come up empty. Coach David Quinn said a decision hasn’t been made on who starts in goal for the must-win Game 3 among Shesterkin, Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev.

The Winnipeg Jets avoided slipping into a 2-0 hole when Nikolaj Ehlers broke a 2-2 tie with a goal at 10:24 of the third period on Monday to even their qualifying series at one game apiece. The teams face off in Game 3 on Tuesday (6:45 p.m. EDT, NHLN).

BLUE JACKETS vs. MAPLE LEAFS, Columbus leads series 1-0. (4 p.m. EDT, NBCSN)

The overriding narrative of the playoff qualifying series between Columbus and Toronto is how the Blue Jackets’ aggressive, body-banging defense would match up against Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and the other prolific goal-scorers on the Maple Leafs.

Game 1 on Sunday night followed that story line, with the Blue Jackets rolling multiple effective defensive pairs and the Leafs able to muster only a few high-value chances in a 2-0 shutout.

Columbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo – who battled rookie Elvis Merzlikins for the No. 1 spot through summer training camp – started his first playoff game and turned in the first postseason shutout in franchise history.

The Maple Leafs will regroup and try to figure how to solve Korpisalo and the close-checking, harassing Blue Jackets when the series resumes in Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena.

”I don’t think anything surprised us,” Toronto center Auston Matthews said. ”They play a pretty straightforward game, and it’s what you can expect every night. They’re going to compete, they’re going to play physical.”

PANTHERS vs. ISLANDERS, New York leads series 1-0 (Noon EDT, NBCSN)

The health of defenseman Johnny Boychuk is the biggest question facing the New York Islanders. Just don’t expect coach Barry Trotz to provide many answers.

Trotz confirmed Boychuk, who was injured in Game 1 Saturday, didn’t practice Monday. Asked who would replace Boychuk in the lineup, Trotz said only, ”A defenseman will fill his spot.”

The Islanders have some options, from veteran trade-deadline pickup Andy Greene to Thomas Hickey and young Noah Dobson.

COYOTES vs. PREDATORS, Arizona leads series 1-0 (2:30 p.m., NHL Network)

Just because the Arizona Coyotes pulled a bit of an upset of the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the 6 vs. 11 seed series in the West doesn’t mean they’re feeling overconfident. Almost blowing a lead should help coach Rick Tocchet focus his group.

”You can always learn, even though we won,” Tocchet said. ”They’re going to make pushes because they’re a great team. You’ve just got to be able to handle them.”

Nashville goaltender Juuse Saros wasn’t the problem in Game 1, but coach John Hynes might still have a decision to make between him and veteran Pekka Rinne.

WILD vs. CANUCKS, Minnesota leads series 1-0 (10:45 p.m. EDT, USA Network)

The Vancouver Canucks would like to even their series against the Minnesota Wild after a disappointing start. Forward Micheal Ferland got a jab in at Ryan Hartman in Game 1 after a Minnesota player grabbed his stick from the bench, and the NHL fined him $5,000 for spearing.

”Someone grabs your stick from the bench, you’re going to try to get it back maybe in a harder way than you would normally would,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. ”I thought two minutes each was fine. I know Ferly got fined. I believe one or two of their players did. Not much to talk about, really.”

Wild forward Luke Kunin was fined $1,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Stacy reported from Columbus, Ohio. AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.

For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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