Hurricanes counting on home success to offset road troubles

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The Carolina Hurricanes have been perfect at home in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’ve had to be.

The Hurricanes are back in Raleigh for Thursday night’s Game 5 against the New York Rangers, looking once again to climb into the lead of a playoff series with the support of a rowdy home crowd. That’s because they have lost every road game, the latest coming Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden that allowed the Rangers to even their second-round series.

That only shrinks the margin for error as the series wears on, even with home-ice advantage.

“It’s a best-of-3 series now and we’ve been in this position before,” defenseman Brett Pesce said Wednesday. “We should have the confidence to pull it out.”

The split between the Hurricanes’ home and road results is drastic.

The Hurricanes are the first NHL team to win its first six postseason home games since 2017, and they boast a plus-13 goal differential in pulling off the feat. They are a lowly 0-5 on the road with a minus-14 differential — a startling performance for a division champion that was tied with the Rangers and three other teams with an NHL-best 25 road wins during the regular season.

The Hurricanes haven’t stayed out of the box on the road, where they have committed 28 penalties for an average of 13:48 in minutes served compared with 24 penalties for an average of 8:20 minutes at home.

More glaringly, Carolina’s power play has been struggling since the final weeks of the regular season. Carolina is just 9 for 89 (10.1%) over its last 28 games dating to late March, including 5 for 45 (11.1%) in the postseason.

“In the last two games, we did hit two posts on our power play,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour. “We’re there, it’s just they’ve got to go in.”

While the Hurricanes are 0 for 9 in this series, New York has capitalized by scoring a power-play goal in each of their Game 3 and Game 4 home wins. Those loom large in a defensive-minded series between the teams that surrendered the fewest regular-season goals in the NHL.

“It’s not just the two at home, but the four games have been pretty much one-goal games most of the way through,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said after Tuesday’s win. “We’re two teams that are close and battling. I just think it’s been outstanding hockey by both teams.”

The Hurricanes ousted Boston in Round 1 by holding serve at home and winning Game 7. They could advance again the same way in this series and they would also have the home-ice advantage against reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in the East final.

Any home stumble could be devastating if Carolina can’t solve its road issues.

“The games are all tight, they’re all close,” Brind’Amour said. “A bounce here, there. We just didn’t get them on the road. … It’s not a road game, the next one. So I’m not worried about the road right now.”

OILERS at FLAMES, Edmonton leads 3-1 (9:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN)

The Battle of Alberta opened with Edmonton unable to keep up with Calgary in a 15-goal frenzy. Now the Oilers are a win from the Western Conference finals.

The Oilers have won three straight since the 9-6 road loss in Game 1 under interim coach Jay Woodcroft, who went from leading the team’s American Hockey League affiliate to replacing the fired Dave Tippett in February for a team sitting six points outside the playoff race.

“He’s brought a lot of energy and a lot of passion to the job,” said Connor McDavid, who has a league-best 25 points in 11 postseason games. “We fed off that. The message he preaches is something that I think we all agree with. Something that we all can buy into.”

A Game 5 win on Thursday night would send the Oilers to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2006, when Edmonton later lost to Carolina in a seven-game Stanley Cup Final.

Calgary is trying to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2004.

In an offensive-minded series, the Flames could use a strong performance in net from Jacob Markstrom. He ranked third in the league with a 2.22 goals-against average and fourth with a .922 save percentage, but against the high-powered Oilers those numbers are 5.28 and .850.

Flames coach Darryl Sutter said Game 5 is about more than just players like McDavid and Markstrom.

“That’s all anyone else had talked about. They’ve either talked about Jacob Markstrom or Connor McDavid. That’s all they’ve talked about,” he said. “In the end, that’s not what the difference in games is. We’ll have to improve some things.”

The Flames twice suffered four-game losing streaks during the regular season, the last in January. Another will end their season.

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    Sharks goalie James Reimer declines to wear Pride jersey

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    San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer won’t take part in pregame warmups Saturday night, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

    Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

    “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.

    Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.

    Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

    “As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

    The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

    “Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”

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    Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to 6-0 rout of Penguins

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    NEW YORK (AP) Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.

    Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

    “When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,” Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today – scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We’re playing for them.”

    The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.

    “Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny.”

    Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.

    “This was a big game for our goalie and our team,” Panarin said. “If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”

    Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.

    As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.

    Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.

    Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.

    Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.

    New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.

    After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.

    Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second – his 22nd goal of the season – to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.

    “We’re building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.

    Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.

    “It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We’re happy tonight.”

    Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points – including 14 goals – over his last 20 games.

    “It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,” Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”

    NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.


    Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

    Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

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    Coyotes sign Shane Doan’s son to entry-level contract

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    TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Doan is following his father’s footsteps into professional hockey.

    The Arizona Coyotes signed the 21-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season. He will report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and play his first game against the Calgary Wranglers.

    Doan’s father, Shane, played 21 seasons with the franchise, many of those as captain, and followed it from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996. Shane Doan now serves as Arizona’s chief hockey development officer.

    The Coyotes drafted Josh Doan in the second round of the 2021, but he opted to play for the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils.

    Josh Doan set school records for goals (12) and assists (25) as a freshman last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with Arizona State this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder also played two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

    Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman has shoulder surgery

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    CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman had surgery on his right shoulder.

    The team said the operation was performed in Los Angeles. Team physician Michael Terry said the 23-year-old Guttman is expected “to be out of hockey activities for approximately four months.”

    Guttman had been a pleasant surprise for rebuilding Chicago. He made his NHL debut last month and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 14 games.

    Guttman was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2017 draft. He agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago in August 2022 that had a $950,000 salary cap hit.