Thanks to their 4-1 win on Tuesday night the Carolina Hurricanes are the first team to advance through the qualifying round.
They eliminated the New York Rangers in a clean three-game sweep in a series that turned out to be a fairly obvious mismatch.
Simply put, the Rangers were no match for Carolina and had no answer for anything they were doing.
The Rangers scored just four goals in the three games and played with the lead for only three minutes in the entire series. Those three minutes came early in the second period of Tuesday’s game when Chris Kreider scored just 12 seconds into the second period to give them a 1-0 lead.
It was Shesterkin’s first start of the series after missing the first two games. He played well, but did not get anywhere near enough support from the team in front of him. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort. It was just the simple fact that Carolina is a faster, more talented, and better team and it was on display throughout the entire series.
Given the way they played in this series the Hurricanes are looking like a team that nobody in the Eastern Conference is going to want to play this postseason. They are already coming off of a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Final a year ago and have one of the league’s most exciting young cores in place. Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov, and Sebastian Aho all shined in this series and played at a dominant level, while the Hurricanes’ defense was smothering even though it received zero minutes from one of its top players in Dougie Hamilton.
Aho was especially dominant during the season, scoring two more goals on Tuesday to finish with seven points.
His first goal of the game was a highlight reel goal that helped put the game out of reach.
He added an empty net goal later in the game.
James Reimer got his first start of the postseason for the Hurricanes and played brilliantly, stopping 37 shots in the win.
As for the Rangers, they now return home and will have a 12.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall draft pick in the second phase of the NHL’s draft lottery.
This was always going to be a rebuilding year for them, and there were some very promising developments along the way, but it was clear in this series they are not quite ready to be a contender and have some significant holes that need addressed. With Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, and Shesterkin there is a strong core in place, but the depth and the defense need a lot of help.
It also seems entirely possible — if not likely — that their Game 2 loss on Monday could have been the final game Henrik Lundqvist plays for the Rangers.
(6) Carolina Hurricanes vs. (11) New York Rangers (Hurricanes win series 3-0)