RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes controlled long stretches of play, stayed aggressive and even got a breakthrough in a two-month struggle on the power play.
It was enough to secure another home playoff victory. Now they can turn their attention to trying to put away the New York Rangers, too.
Vincent Trocheck buried a short-handed goal, Teuvo Teravainen had a rare power-play score and the Hurricanes beat the Rangers 3-1 on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the second-round series.
It was part of yet another strong home performance for the Metropolitan Division champions, who improved to 7-0 at home in the postseason.
“It was kind of the game that I’ve been waiting for,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “We’ve been playing OK, but tonight was good all the way around — more obviously how we want to play.”
Andrei Svechnikov also scored, beating Igor Shesterkin with a backhander on a breakaway midway through the third period as the Hurricanes protected their Game 5 lead.
The Hurricanes can advance to the Eastern Conference finals to face reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay by winning Game 6 in New York on Saturday, though they are 0-5 away from PNC Arena so far despite tying for the NHL lead in regular-season road wins.
Now Carolina faces the challenge of putting away a team that has been resilient, even stubborn, when facing a series deficit. The Rangers rallied from a 3-1 hole to beat Pittsburgh in a seven-game first-round series, then lost the first two games against Carolina before fighting back to even at home.
“The way I look at it, we’ve played a lot of must-win games lately, and we’ve done a pretty good job,” said New York’s Ryan Strome, who had a second-period goal negated by a successful offsides challenge from Carolina.
“We’ve played some desperate hockey. … We seem to like being in this position a little bit.”
The Hurricanes sustained their aggressive style while giving the Rangers little room to operate, finishing with a 34-17 shot advantage to keep the pressure on Shesterkin while also easing the burden on Antti Raanta (16 saves) in Carolina’s net.
Mika Zibanejad scored a power-play goal for New York, winning a first-period faceoff and then drifting to the left side for the putaway just six seconds into the man advantage. Shesterkin — a finalist for both the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goalie and Hart Trophy for most valuable player — finished with 31 saves against a steady stream of work.
Carolina had been just 9 of 89 (10.1%) on the power play since late March. Yet after an 0 for 9 start in the series, the Hurricanes finally broke through with quick and crisp puck movement.
Rookie Seth Jarvis — who left briefly in the second with a bleeding mouth after being hit by Strome’s follow-through on a shot — zipped the puck to Teravainen for the left-side putaway to beat Shesterkin at 9:47 of the second for the 2-1 lead. It marked Carolina’s first goal with the man advantage since the final minutes of Game 6 in the first-round win against Boston.
“We had just kind of talked after the last game,” Teravainen said. “Just reset and start over and just we don’t have to think too much (of what’s) behind, keep thinking what’s going forward.”
Carolina’s first goal came on special teams, too, though this on a perfectly executed short-handed rush off a turnover.
Jordan Staal carried the puck on the left side until Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller laid out to stop a pass, but Staal lifted the puck off the ice and over Miller’s legs to a charging-in Trocheck on the right side for the 1-0 lead at 12:57 of the first.
“The pass that Jordan made was incredible,” Trocheck said.
Carolina, which had a short-handed goal from defenseman Brendan Smith in the Game 2 win, has two short-handed goals in the same postseason series for the first time since 1992.
Strome appeared to have given the Rangers a 2-1 lead just five minutes into the second when he collected his own entry pass on the boards and beat Raanta. But on the review, linemate Andrew Copp was clearly across the blue line as he tried to tag back up.
“It definitely sucks, but that’s the way it goes,” Strome said. “It’s a rule. It’s cut and dry. It happens.”
Carolina’s seven-game home winning streak is the longest in a postseason since Chicago won its first seven games in 2014, a run that ended in the conference finals.
Retired American soccer great Clint Dempsey sounded the pregame “storm warning” siren for the Hurricanes to take the ice.
NASCAR driver Harrison Burton sounded the siren for the first intermission, followed by North Carolina State football coach Dave Doeren — whose Wolfpack play across the parking lot from PNC Arena in Carter-Finley Stadium — for the second intermission.
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