Rangers force Game 7 as Hurricanes lose on the road again

Rangers force Game 7 as Hurricanes lose on the road again
Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

That home/road Hurricanes pattern continued, and from the way the Rangers controlled Game 6, Carolina has to hope it continues until the 2022 Eastern Conference Final. The Rangers once again responded to being on the brink of elimination, beating the Hurricanes 5-2 to force a Game 7 (Monday, 8 p.m. ET).

That home/road pattern opened up a new, specific Hurricanes record. Via ESPN, the Hurricanes became the first NHL team in playoff history to trail by multiple goals in their first six road postseason games.

ESPN noted strong Game 7 work from both the Hurricanes and Rangers:

  • Carolina’s won six such contests in a row.
  • The Rangers are 7-1 in their last eight Game 7 contests.

Speaking of history, the Hurricanes hope they can keep at least one other pattern going. They’ve never lost a series (nine series wins) once they’ve managed a 3-2 lead. The (perhaps-too?) rested Lightning will await the winner of a Game 7 after sweeping their series.

Rangers get to Hurricanes, Raanta early in Game 6

It’s been rare for Antti Raanta to look shaky during the Hurricanes – Rangers series, but he fought through a tough start to Game 6. Ultimately, he wouldn’t get a chance to try to generate a strong finish.

After Igor Shesterkin stopped Sebastian Aho’s breakaway attempt, Raanta gave up a soft goal to Tyler Motte:

After being held without a point through the first two games of the Hurricanes – Rangers series, Mika Zibanejad stayed hot in Game 6. You might argue Raanta should’ve stopped this one. Yet, Zibanejad is a deceptive shooter, and really seems to become deadlier on the power play.

Zibanejad beat Raanta to extend his goal streak to four games. Three of those four tallies happened on the power play.

In the last 40 years, three Rangers generated playoff goal streaks of at least four games: Zibanejad, Brendan Shanahan (2007) and Alexei Kovalev (1994).

Overall, Zibanejad’s been heating up in the playoffs. In Games 6 and 7 against the Penguins, Zibanejad was prolific, scoring three goals and seven points in elimination situations.

With Chris Kreider cooling off a bit after easily the best regular season of his career, Zibanejad’s production has been pivotal. Especially in keeping that Rangers’ power play humming.

Impressive second period from Rangers’ Chytil

Overall, it was more of the same in the second period of Game 6.

After a well-placed Filip Chytil goal, the Rangers went up 3-0, and the Hurricanes gave Antti Raanta the hook. Former Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei gave the Hurricanes some hope by roofing a 3-1 goal, yet that hope was short-lived.

A different goalie in net only did so much for the Canes. Chytil scored his second goal of Game 6 against Pyotr Kochetkov. As you can see, it was one heck of a backhander:


The Shesterkin difference?

Toward the end of the second period, the Hurricanes gained one more rush of hope. First, Vincent Trocheck scored to reduce New York’s lead to 4-2.

Then, Carolina gained potentially game-changing power-play opportunities. In an especially interesting sequence, the Hurricanes had the Rangers hemmed in their zone for a long time, only for Igor Shesterkin to bring down Seth Jarvis on an interference penalty.

Some wondered if Shesterkin lost his cool. I lean toward the opposite. Maybe Shesterkin noticed how dangerous the situation was looking, and made an executive decision.

(Personally, I couldn’t help but think of it as a decision akin to a goalie knocking down his own net, a choice often made on a would-be breakaway.)

During a Game 6 when Hurricanes goalies were struggling a bit, this was a night where you get an idea about the Shesterkin difference. He made some wonderful saves to rob Carolina of chances to make this one tougher. Shesterkin took that (in my opinion, smart) penalty, and also collected two assists in Game 6.

Rangers’ power play makes a difference where Hurricanes has been quiet

In the third, the Canes made some pushes here and there. It really seemed elementary once Artemi Panarin scored a power-play goal, though.

Speaking of power plays, it’s fair to note that the special teams battle has been closer than it sometimes first appears in this series.

Yes, the Rangers scored three power-play goals heading into Game 6, while the Hurricanes managed just one. Carolina scored twice shorthanded, however, while New York hasn’t found the net that way in this series. So the two teams were actually dead even … until Game 6.

Those Zibanejad and Panarin goals really bought the Rangers breathing room when they needed it. The Hurricanes boast the talent to flip that power play narrative, yet the way things are looking, it feels like the Rangers would hold the advantage if Game 7 is decided by the PP.

An overview of the Rangers – Hurricanes series as it reaches Game 7

  • In Game 1, Ian Cole lifted Carolina in overtime. [Score: Hurricanes 2, Rangers 1 (OT)]
  • The Hurricanes’ defense really showed in Game 2, as the Rangers couldn’t manage a goal. [Score: Hurricanes 2, Rangers 0]
  • Did you hear that the Hurricanes keep winning at home, but losing on the road? Those away troubles continued in Game 3. Gerard Gallant ended up unhappy with some late-game antics. [Score: Rangers 3, Hurricanes 1]
  • Part of the story was the Rangers tying the series 2-2. Another big Jacob Trouba hit was also part of the focus of Game 4. [Score: Rangers 4, Hurricanes 1]
  • A lot of patterns continued in Game 5, including the Hurricanes winning at home. They did, however, finally connect on the power play, and found the net for a power-play goal. [Score: Hurricanes 3, Rangers 1]
  • Then, we had this Game 6. Once again, the Rangers handily won at Madison Square Garden.

Rangers – Hurricanes Game 7: start time, TV info

Game 7 takes place on Monday, May 30: Rangers at Hurricanes, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports).

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    Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension

    Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Sabres agreed to terms with forward Dylan Cozens on a seven-year extension worth $49.7 million.

    The team announced the contract. Cozens will count $7.1 million against the salary cap through the 2029-30 season.

    Cozens, who turns 22, is the latest core player the Sabres have extended over the past six months. Buffalo signed All-Star forward Tage Thompson for $50 million over seven seasons in August and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.

    Rasmus Dahlin, the top pick in 2020 who’s a Norris Trophy candidate and filled in for Thompson at NHL All-Star weekend, figures to be next for a big contract. He’s signed through next season and can begin talking about an extension this summer.

    Cozens, who was set to be a restricted free agent, has already set career highs with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points – with 30 games left in the season. The seventh pick in 2019, Cozens has 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 regular-season NHL games, all with Buffalo.

    The Sabres, led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and 2021 No. 1 pick Owen Power, are contending to make the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought dating to 2011 is by far the longest in the league.

    Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health

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    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had his coach been watching, this might have made for an anxious moment: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar catching an edge and falling in the fastest skater contest.

    Jared Bednar wasn’t tuned in, though, and had no idea what happened in the skills contest over All-Star weekend. Only that Makar emerged from his crash into the boards just fine.

    These days, things are definitely looking up for the Stanley Cup champions on the injury front. Defenseman Bowen Byram returns to the lineup, along with forward Valeri Nichushkin. Defenseman Josh Manson is creeping closer to a return. Same for captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s yet to play this season. Forward Darren Helm is progressing, too.

    In spite of all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche entered the All-Star break in a playoff spot. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, a mark that’s tied for the most in a single season since the team relocated to Denver in 1995.

    “Anybody we can get back right now is huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.

    Byram returns after being sidelined with a lower-body injury since early November. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago, when he led all rookies with nine assists in the postseason. Byram was off to a fast start this season – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before his injury.

    “He’s looking great. He’s buzzing out there,” Makar said of his fellow blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into game mode. But I think he’s a guy that can turn it on pretty quickly.”

    Byram missed a chunk of games last season as he dealt with concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be around the team as he worked his way back.

    “I was just happy it wasn’t my head,” Byram said. “It was a lot easier to be out when you’re still feeling good and feel like yourself. … I’m just excited to get going again.”

    Count on Byram for as many minutes as necessary, too.

    “I’m 100%, so no reason to ease into it,” Byram said. “I’m confident with jumping back in.”

    Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can skate with the squad. He’s been out with a lower-body injury since the start of December.

    “I do think it helps to get on the road, be around the guys,” Bednar said.

    Landeskog could be back “fairly soon,” Bednar said, but didn’t have a definitive timeline quite yet. The longtime Avalanche captain has been sidelined since knee surgery in October.

    The Avalanche entered the All-Star break on quite a roll, winning seven of their last eight. They’ve amassed 57 points, which trails Dallas (66 points at the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) and Minnesota (58) in the Central Division.

    One thing the Avalanche are guarding against is another slow start out off the break. It happened over Christmas when the team had a few days off and promptly went 0-4-1 upon their return.

    “It’s just shifting the mentality back to game mode. No more vacation,” Makar said. “We still have a long way to go. We’re not where we want to be right now. But there’s a lot of time left.”

    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

    Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.