RALEIGH | Two hours after Game 7, Igor Shesterkin was looking at the end of the red tunnel in front of Section 123 of the PNC Arena. Before this crucial game, the goalie had never won on the ice for the Hurricanes in this series.
The 26-year-old Russian closed his eyes and shook his head. He was in the bubble of it in a complete moment of silence. A few hours later, a normally noisy stadium was turned into a library.
Described as a fortress after seven wins in seven playoff games, the PNC Arena collapsed at the worst time.
Shesterkin and the New York Rangers continued their drive-by eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes with an unequivocal 6-2 victory.
There will therefore be an Eastern final between the Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, champions of the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021. A masked duel between Shesterkin and Andreï Vasilevskiy.
In the morning, coach Gerard Gallant said that he would give a speech of only 25 seconds to his players before this game. It was no longer the time to talk, but to play.
And the Rangers have accomplished their mission. They broke the back of the “Canes” with two powerplay goals at the beginning of the first half. Adam Fox and Chris Kreider have in turn frustrated Antti Raanta. Top in the NHL for understaffing this season at 88%, the Hurricanes haven’t kept up this pace in the playoffs at 74% (13 goals in against 50 times).
For the fifth time since the start of the playoffs, the ‘Blueshirts’ have avoided elimination. There is a lot of character in this club. And a young man like Alexis Lafrenière shows that he is not shy in big matches. Just like the sixth duel, he got help in addition to spending valuable time in enemy territory.
WHAT WE NOTICE…
I found the villain
Jacob Trouba smiled in the morning when a colleague from New York asked him if he liked playing the role of the villain since the beginning of the series. “I don’t think about it, I’m playing as I’ve always played,” he said. But when I look at my Twitter account, I can see that people don’t always write nice words about me. Trouba did nothing to expand his circle of friends in North Carolina. In the first period, the defenseman surprised winger Seth Jarvis with a forceful check. But it was legal. Injured in the upper part of the body, probably a concussion, Jarvis did not return to the game.
always present Kreider
Chris Kreider carried the winner’s attack on his shoulders with a brace. He scored his seventh and eighth playoff goals. They were his 14th and 15th career goals as his team faced elimination. This is high among active players in the NHL. He is followed by Alexander Ovechkin with 13. Former Edmonton Oilers and Rangers star Mark Messier holds the record with 16 goals in such a situation.
Raanta gets hurt
For the second game in a row, Antti Raanta gave way to Pyotr Kochetkov. The Finn suffered a knee or groin injury after a move to his right in the second half. Just before that, Kreider… had run into him. However, it was not the fall of the great side that caused the injury.