Peter Koutroumpis (@pksport)
RALEIGH, NC – It wasn’t perfect, but it was enough, and the home team won – again.
In order, a short-handed goal, a power play goal, and a late breakaway finish was enough to take Game 5 on Thursday as the Carolina Hurricanes held serve at home once again, defeating the New York Rangers by a 3-1 margin.
Goaltender Antti Raanta made 16 saves while Vincent Trocheck, Teuvo Teravainen, and Andrei Svechnikov paced the Hurricanes offense.
Throwing 34 reachable pucks at Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin, the Hurricanes kept the Rangers busy chasing the play with only Mika Zibanejad managing to snipe a shot that touched mesh.
“We limited their scoring opportunities,” Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
“That’s huge, especially considering that we didn’t score a ton. We had a lot of opportunities – lot of posts. They were still in the game, so it was good that we didn’t give them opportunities because they are so talented. We gave them one, and boom it was in the net. It’s super important to limit those chances.”
Home is where the wins are, but the road is a lonely place
Extending a perfect slate at home to 7-0 in the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Hurricanes took a 3-2 lead in the two teams’ series that now returns to the Big Apple for Game 6 on Saturday.
In addition to posting the longest home win streak (so far) within a single postseason in franchise history, Carolina has become the first NHL team since 2014 to open the playoffs with seven straight home wins.
While feeling good at home, the team’s five straight postseason road losses to-date, are the league high and mark the longest road losing streak in franchise playoff history.
Putting a stop to it
Raanta improved his record to 6-0 at home during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He leads all NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (0.97) and save percentage (.965) on home ice during the postseason.
The support crew in front of him held the Rangers to five shots in each of the first two periods.
New York’s 17 total shots ranked tied for the fourth-fewest by an opponent in any game in franchise playoff history.
Tenacious and committed — to the puck
Though some, maybe many, will say that Thursday’s game was the Hurricanes’ best defensive effort of the series, holding only a one-goal lead (2-1) with 10 minutes remaining in the third, a number of giveaways led to Grade-A chances that Raanta denied.
A critical point in earning the win to be sure.
The Rangers didn’t need many chances to even it up earlier in the game, as Brind’Amour said.
But they weren’t able to commit to the puck as well as the Canes did for the full 60 minutes.
The most significant numbers to know were the blocked shots (20) that the Hurricanes absorbed, was the same number the Rangers took on throughout the game.
Add 14 missed shots from each team and basically it turned into a 17-shot difference in the Canes favor, a result of repeated puck retrieval and possession.
That was the advantage that Carolina capitalized on to beat Shesterkin, who was finally worn down, and easily beat between the pads on Svechnikov’s breakaway finish in the third.