Hurricanes-Rangers: Canes dealing with disaster of goalie confidence


Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta (32) reacts after giving up a objective to New York Rangers heart Mika Zibanejad throughout the first interval of Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff collection, Saturday, May 28, 2022, in New York.

The Carolina Hurricanes are heading again to Raleigh with an even bigger downside than their persistent incapability to win a playoff recreation on the street, one which for the second time has pushed them to the Game 7 brink.

For the primary time within the playoffs, they’re dealing with a real disaster of confidence of their goaltending, and Frederik Andersen isn’t coming by means of that door to save lots of them.

There’s each cause to count on Antti Raanta to bounce again from this Game 6 catastrophe, given how in any other case excellent he has been throughout these playoffs, however it’s inconceivable to play as poorly as he did in Saturday’s 5-2 loss and never plant a minimum of a couple of seeds of doubt that weren’t there earlier than.

And with Igor Shesterkin at his finest in his finest recreation of the collection — he shut down Sebastian Aho on a breakaway instantly earlier than Raanta gave up the primary of three gentle targets and picked up a pair of assists and a penalty, a Tom Barrasso hat trick– there’s completely no margin for error. The Hurricanes don’t essentially must win the goaltending battle to win this collection, however they a minimum of must be taking part in the identical recreation.

That is likely to be one factor if the Hurricanes have been headed again to Raleigh tied 2-2 once more, however they’re out of second possibilities now. They’ve put themselves able the place Shesterkin solely has to steal one recreation to finish their season. And pretty much as good as they’ve been at dwelling, they’re actually pushing their luck making an attempt to win eight straight.

That could also be a good harder ask than it was within the first spherical, solely two weeks in the past even when it seems like months, in opposition to a staff with higher goaltending than the Boston Bruins and, within the so-far-so-quiet Artemi Panarin, a ticking time bomb able to unleashing a multi-point recreation at any time. He might have woke up Saturday with a five-on-three objective within the third interval.

The Hurricanes at the moment are risking their season on this very unusual procession of home-team victories, already unprecedented in NHL historical past. No staff has ever received a number of best-of-seven collection in the identical postseason with out profitable a street recreation.

Suddenly, that’s the least of the Hurricanes’ issues.

The targets Raanta gave up Saturday would have been unacceptable in any circumstances, crippling in any playoff recreation, however have been catastrophic given the first-period efficiency of the man within the different web. Tyler Motte’s opener went underneath Raanta’s left elbow, Mika Zibanejad whipped one previous him from the left wing on an influence play — after darting between Fast and Sebastian Aho on the blue line — and Filip Chytil ended Raanta’s night time nearly two durations early with a short-sider from the proper wing.

Raanta has 45 hours to regain his composure and rediscover his recreation, as a result of it’s not just like the Hurricanes have some other selection.

Andersen stays out indefinitely, not but match to backup, not even the emergency third goalie, who stays Jack LaFontaine, Brind’Amour mentioned Saturday morning. For the second time in these playoffs, the Hurricanes really feel Andersen’s absence acutely. Pyotr Kotchetkov needed to begin Game 3 in Boston after Raanta was injured in Game 2, a recreation when the Hurricanes would have loved their goalie stealing a win for them.

Under regular circumstances, the Hurricanes would and will transfer seamlessly between Andersen and Raanta with out blinking, as they did all through the common season. It’s not fairly the identical with Kotchetkov, who made his second look in reduction of Raanta, by selection this time — though after the Rangers’ third objective, Brind’Amour actually had no selection.

And whereas Kotchetkov gave up one objective shortly after coming in, Chytil’s second of the sport, he did sufficient on a first-do-no-harm foundation to provide the Hurricanes an opportunity to get again into the sport earlier than Panarin’s objective on the two-man benefit.

(And by maintaining issues shut sufficient to keep away from any mayhem, Kotchetkov lessened the probabilities he would go 178 ft to problem Shesterkin vratar-on-vratar if issues actually kicked off.)

And the Hurricanes had possibilities: two energy performs after Vincent Trocheck scored to make it 4-2, however they made nothing of them. Raanta may solely look on glumly from the bench, chin buried in his pads.

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Sports columnist Luke DeCock joined The News & Observer in 2000 and has coated six Final Fours, the Summer Olympics, the Super Bowl and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup. He is the present president of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, was the 2020 winner of the National Headliner Award because the nation’s high sports activities columnist and has twice been named North Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.

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