The Carolina Hurricanes obviously would’ve rather avoided another Game 7, but at least they’ll be back in their comfort zone.
The Hurricanes will try to stay unbeaten at PNC Arena this postseason when they face the New York Rangers in the deciding Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal on Monday night in Raleigh, N.C.
Carolina is 7-0 at home through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, compared to 0-6 on the road.
The Hurricanes had an opportunity to finish the series in Game 6 on Saturday night but lost 5-2 in New York.
“It’s frustrating we couldn’t close it out,” Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei said. “We’ll try and move on from this pretty quickly. We have a lot of confidence at home, like our record shows. We’re excited and we’ll be ready to go Monday.”
The Rangers already have survived an elimination game on the road this postseason, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 in Game 6 of their first-round series before advancing with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 7.
“We have to find a way to win the game and just play how we play at home,” Rangers center Filip Chytil said. “They have the fans, they have the building where they’re getting used to (winning), but we have to play hard. We have to play our game and just don’t focus on any other things, just focus on the game and I think we can win.”
The Rangers increasingly appear to have the advantage in goal.
Igor Shesterkin has allowed two goals or fewer in five of the six games in the series. He may have delivered his best stretch of the playoffs in the first period of Game 6, making several difficult saves while New York was building a 2-0 lead.
“He plays his best hockey when we give up a couple breakaways in the first period, and he’s done it all year long,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Makes me a little nervous, but he gets into the game and he focuses, and he makes those key saves for us. It’s not a surprise for us, but fortunately for us he makes those saves at key times, and that gave us a 2-0 lead and a lot of confidence after the first period.”
Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said he plans to start Antti Raanta in goal for Game 7.
Raanta was pulled after allowing three goals on 13 shots in Game 6.
“I’m sure he’d like to have some of those back,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s behind us now. We’ll turn the page. The good news is we don’t have to end on that. We have another shot here.”
Raanta’s durability could be a factor.
He has made 12 starts in the postseason after making 26 during the regular season as the primary backup to Frederik Andersen, who has not appeared in the playoffs because of a lower-body injury.
Raanta is a big reason for Carolina’s success at home during the playoffs, however, owning a 6-0 record with a 0.97 goals-against average and .965 save percentage.
“He’s been a rock for us,” Skjei said. “He’s been a huge part of us being where we’re at right now. We have confidence in him.”
–Field Level Media