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Home still sweet: Hurricanes push Rangers to brink of elimination

Home still sweet: Hurricanes push Rangers to brink of elimination

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 26: Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores a second period powerplay goal against Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers as Vincent Trocheck #16 celebrates in front in Game Five of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena on May 26, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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If you’re a fan of the Hurricanes, you’re probably tired of all the home/road talk, between this series against the Rangers and the seven-game battle with the Bruins. However, those same fans strongly preferred that narrative carrying over with the series shifting back to Carolina. The Hurricanes did maintain that pattern, beating the Rangers 3-1 to win Game 5, and take a 3-2 series lead.

Another Hurricanes home win, and more that stayed the same in Game 5 vs. the Rangers

Roll your eyes all you want, but a lot did stay the same on Thursday night. Those factors played into Carolina’s favor.

  • Antti Raanta continued to look sharp, especially at home. Through six playoff home games, Raanta basically just allowed a goal per night (0.97 GAA). He once again only allowed a single tally.
  • Granted, he didn’t have to do much. That’s actually an area where it’s not some strange home/road split. Since Game 2, the Hurricanes have really clamped down on the Rangers, allowing eight high-danger chances or fewer at 5-on-5. In Game 5, the Rangers only managed seven, including just three while Carolina protected a third-period lead.
  • To be fair to those who harp on the home/road stuff, there are some unusual numbers. According to ESPN, the Hurricanes are only the third team in NHL history to win their first seven playoff home games, and allow two goals or less in all seven victories.
  • Also, via ESPN: the Hurricanes became the first NHL team to be involved in 12 consecutive games where the home team won every playoff contest.

Ultimately, it’s a small sample size. The Hurricanes could easily end that trend by beating the Rangers at MSG on Saturday. But it is a curious pattern.

Some patterns did end in this one, though.

Scoring first, and some other welcome changes

That said, some things did indeed change on Thursday.

Among the continued highs of home games, Carolina hadn’t always been making things easy for themselves. In Game 5, the Hurricanes didn’t just score first against the Rangers; they collected their first goal in the first period of the series.

Speaking of firsts, Andrei Svechnikov scored his first goal and point of the series. It was a beauty, too, as he calmly finished a breakaway chance:

Svechnikov was due.

During the previous three games against the Rangers, Svechnikov fired 10 shots on goal. He was firing away in this one, too, with five SOG.

Another thing that changed: Hurricanes break through on power play (but Rangers’ special teams advantage was arguably overstated, anyway)

For the first time since Game 6 against the Bruins, the Hurricanes finally scored a power-play goal. Before this nice Teuvo Teravainen PPG, the Hurricanes went 0-for-their-previous-12 on the power play.

In general, the Hurricanes won the special teams battle against the Rangers in Game 5.

Sure, a nice Mika Zibanejad one-timer did mean that the two teams drew even on power-play goals. Yet, a nice play from Jordan Staal to Vincent Trocheck resulted in a Carolina shorthanded goal.

Frankly, Carolina would probably settle for breaking even in the special teams battle. Thanks to two shorthanded goals for the Hurricanes, that battle is indeed balanced against the Rangers through Game 5.

That said, Carolina could stand to find a happier medium between aggression and recklessness. You could easily argue that one or both of their early Game 5 penalties were unforced errors.

If officials are less eager to use their whistles as the playoffs progress, it’s a mixed bag for Carolina. They dominate the puck enough to, theoretically, draw more penalties. Yet, New York’s at least looked scarier on the power play at times during this series.

Either way, this could be the sort of game that can revive some confidence in the Hurricanes’ power play unit. That could be key, as in sheer volume, the Rangers and Hurricanes produced similar power-play goals and power-play goal differential numbers during the regular season.

Ultimately, the Hurricanes are one win from facing the Lightning, but the Rangers fought back from an even larger deficit against the Penguins.