Hurricanes, Rangers face Game 7 for trip to conference final

May 29, 2022, 12:36 AM | Updated: 3:03 pm
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) skates back to the goal before play restarts durin...

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) skates back to the goal before play restarts during the second period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Saturday, May 28, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes have the home-ice advantage with the flawless record when playing in front of their rowdy home crowd. The New York Rangers have the resilience proven with a perfect mark in elimination games.

They’re both leaning on those experiences in another Game 7 on Monday night, the second winner-take-all matchup for each in these Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner goes to the Eastern Conference finals to face two-time reigning Cup champion Tampa Bay.

“We feel like we have a recipe for success, but they probably do, too,” Rangers forward Andrew Copp said Sunday, adding: “It’s just going to be a matter of who can play the closest to a perfect game tomorrow.”

The Hurricanes edged the Rangers for the Metropolitan Division title in a race that came down to the final week of the regular season. That, along with posting the NHL’s third-best record, secured a second round of home-ice advantage at PNC Arena — where they are 7-0 in the longest streak by any team to start a postseason since 2014.

That proved vital in surviving a first-round series against a Boston team that had twice knocked the Canes out of the playoffs in the past three seasons, with Carolina winning a home Game 7 after losing all three road games.

The Hurricanes are back in that position, holding serve at home but losing all three road games against the Rangers.

“I think we’re dwelling on this home and away thing a little bit too much,” Carolina center Vincent Trocheck said. “I mean, it’s a hockey game. When you get out on the ice, you’re not really focused on whether you’re going to go back to your own bed after the game or if you’re going to go to a hotel.”

Carolina can improve to 7-0 in Game 7s since the former Hartford Whalers relocated to North Carolina in 1997.

The Rangers aren’t fazed by the challenge, even while they’ve managed just one win in six road playoff games. New York clawed back from a 3-1 first-round series deficit against Pittsburgh, including a Game 6 road win, and advanced with a Game 7 home win.

The Rangers have rallied from an 0-2 deficit in this one and forced Game 7 after winning their fourth straight elimination game this postseason with Saturday night’s Game 6.

“I just think from Day One we talked about getting up when you’re down,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’ve worked hard. … We’re a young team, we have a lot of fun and they believe in themselves.”

The Rangers led nearly all of Game 1 in Raleigh before falling in overtime. They never led in the next two games in Carolina, with the Hurricanes controlling play and holding the Rangers to 17 shots — matching a season low — in Thursday’s Game 5 as Gallant said his team “looked tired” and wasn’t “competitive enough.”

But the Rangers bounced back at Madison Square Garden, scoring a power-play goal for the fourth straight game against the league’s best regular-season penalty kill. Center Mika Zibanejad also scored a goal for the fourth straight game — the longest postseason streak by a Rangers player since 2007 — while Igor Shesterkin was again strong in net.

Those are areas of concern for Carolina entering Game 7. The Hurricanes managed a power-play goal in Game 5 but otherwise are 10 for 94 (10.6%) in 30 games dating to last March.

In addition, Antti Raanta, working as the starter with No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen sidelined, had his first true stumble of the playoffs by giving up three goals before being yanked in the second period.

“Listen, it wasn’t all on him,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “He let in a couple he’d like to have back. It’s just getting him ready for Game 7. That’s kind of the mentality.”

The Rangers are in their first road Game 7 since beating Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, and they’re trying to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2015.

The Hurricanes are trying to return to the Eastern finals for the second time in four seasons. They made an unexpected run there in 2019 in Brind’Amour’s first season as coach after a nine-year playoff drought.

“You do need to enjoy these moments because this is pretty cool,” said Brind’Amour, who admits getting more nervous as a coach than his playing days. “It’s pretty special to have an opportunity like this.”

___

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Nuggets beat Hawks 128-108, tie Boston for NBA’s best record

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
1 day ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors gu...
Associated Press

Curry injures left leg leading Warriors over Mavs 119-113

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down and the Golden Warriors once again had to fight like crazy to close out a game. Curry had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds before injuring his left leg defending a drive late in the third quarter, and the defending NBA champions defeated Dallas 119-113 on […]
1 day ago
Fedor Emelianenko, rights, listens to interpreter Georgiy Litvinov during an interview in Los Angel...
Associated Press

Fedor Emelianenko loses to Bader in Russian star’s last bout

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Fedor Emelianenko placed his gloves on the canvas and then cracked a warm smile while nearly a dozen mixed martial arts greats behind him led the crowd in one last ovation. Although the Last Emperor says his career is over, his fans and fellow fighters won’t forget his greatness any time […]
1 day ago
Miami Heat's Dewayne Dedmon (21) looks to shoot against Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo duri...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo has triple-double; Bucks win 7th straight

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the short-handed Miami Heat 123-115 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory. “You kind of know what to expect from the Miami team,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve played them so many times. I’ve played […]
1 day ago
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots in front of Houston Rockets forward ...
Associated Press

Gilgeous-Alexander scores 42 as Thunder blow out Rockets

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder took what coach Mark Daigneault called a “bloodthirsty mentality” into Saturday’s rematch with the Houston Rockets. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 42 points to help the Thunder blow out Houston 153-121. They were disappointed in losing at Houston on Wednesday and responded by setting an Oklahoma City record for […]
1 day ago
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, disputes a penalty called against him during the first half ...
Associated Press

Zach LaVine scores 36 as Bulls beat Trail Blazers 129-121

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls tried all sorts of defensive coverages on Damian Lillard. He kept scoring anyway. Just not enough to hold down Zach LaVine and company. LaVine scored 36 points, DeMar DeRozan had 27 and the Bulls topped Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers 129-121 on Saturday night. Nikola Vucevic added 23 […]
1 day ago
Hurricanes, Rangers face Game 7 for trip to conference final