NEW YORK — It was less than four minutes into the second period of Game 6 on Saturday, and the Carolina Hurricanes had already had to change a goaltending. Antti Raanta had just conceded his third goal of the game, which would turn out to be the game winner for the New York Rangers in a 5-2 winand Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour had decided he’d seen enough.
It was a bad night for Raanta, but it was also a bad night for the Hurricanes, who lost a chance to knock out the Rangers and now face a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Second Round at PNC Arena on Monday (8:00 PM). hours ET) ; ESPN, SN, TVAS).
A bad night, yes. But not unexpectedly.
This is what the Hurricanes have been doing all postseason, taking 7-0 in PNC Arena and 0-6 on the road. The numbers are stark, weird, reflecting a story of two teams.
“Of course it’s a bit frustrating at the moment that we couldn’t close it,” defender Brady Skjeic said. “We will forget this pretty soon, and we have a lot of confidence in the house, like the record shows. We are looking forward to it and will be ready to go on Monday.”
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But is there a danger in that trust?
“We did this last series (against the Boston Bruins),” Skjei said. “We face every game with confidence. Being at home was of course much better for us, but when we play our game, we play defensively and limit their chances, we stay out of the penalty area, I like our chances.” †
Especially with Raanta in the net.
Of Frederik Andersen still not ready due to a lower body injury, and with Raanta’s recent appearances at home, Brind’Amour didn’t have to think twice when asked about his starter for Game 7.
†[Raanta] will begin,” he said.
It is logical.
In PNC Arena this postseason, Raanta has a 0.97 goals against average, a 0.965 save rate and one shutout. In Game 7 of the first round against the Bruins, he made 27 saves in a 3-2 win.
“I’m not worried about ‘Raants'”, captain Jordan Steel said. “He’ll be ready to go.”
Video: Rangers push series to 7 with 5-2 Game 6 win
However, no one denied that Raanta had a hard time in Game 6.
He allowed three goals on 13 shots in 23:24 before being replaced by rookie Pyotr Kochetkovy, who conceded two goals on 12 shots. Two out of three were the ones Raanta would probably want back, especially Mika Zibanejad‘s power-play goal at 9:51 of the first period, which went five holes to take the lead to 2-0. Tyler MotteThe opening goal at 7:22 wasn’t much better, sneaking under Raanta’s left arm from the high slit.
“I’m sure he’d like to have it back,” Brind’Amour said. “This time of year is tough. I think he would say he might have to make those saves, but it’s behind us now. Turn the page. The good news is we don’t have to end with that. We’ve got another shot here.”
And that’s the ultimate takeaway.
The Hurricanes were not good in Game 6. They did not close the series. After less than 10 minutes into the first period, they trailed 2-0 and were unable to recover. They took too many penalties, including a rare stick violation Jacob Slavin that resulted in a double minor for high-sticking, and failed to convert the powerplay (0-for-3).
But as Skjei said, they’ve been in this situation before and they know they can win at home.
Now they just have to go out and do it. Again.
“We’re going to try to scrap this game and move on,” Skjei said. “Honestly, we did exactly the same in the first round with the wins and losses at home and on the road.”
However, this is a new team and a new opponent, a more difficult challenge and, as they know for sure, anything can happen in a Game 7.
“Game 7s are Game 7s,” Staal said. “Obviously it’s a big game and we feel comfortable [at home], but we’re going to need everyone. It is not easy. From the goalkeeper to the end, everyone has to show up and be ready to fight and obviously be sharp in our details and our puck fights and all that sort of thing.
“We need everyone to win that Game 7 for sure.”