Skjei resolves Carolina’s power-play struggles, aiding the Carolina Hurricanes in defeating the New York Rangers 4-3 to prolong the second-round series

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New York Rangers players overjoyed

The Carolina Hurricanes turned their last chance into a victory that keeps their season alive. Surprisingly, it was their struggling power play that made the difference.

Brady Skjei scored on the power play with 3:11 left to help the Hurricanes defeat the New York Rangers 4-3 on Saturday night, avoiding a sweep by winning Game 4 of the second-round playoff series.

Skjei’s shot from the point came after a pass from Tuevo Teravainen, with the puck swiftly finding its way past Igor Shesterkin into the upper-right corner of the net. This marked Carolina’s first power-play goal in 17 attempts in the series, and it ultimately gave them the lead for good on a night when they let go of a two-goal advantage.

Nevertheless, the Hurricanes managed to stay alive in the NHL playoffs. “I don’t care,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said about the significance of getting the winner on the power play. “Not tonight. We’ve just got to get Ws at this time of year.”

The Rangers will have another chance to close out the series on Monday night with a 3-1 lead when Game 5 returns to Madison Square Garden.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stefan Noesen, and Sebastian Aho each scored goals for Carolina, while Frederik Andersen made 22 saves as the Hurricanes aim to become the fifth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit and win.

Carolna Hurricanes players pumped up after scoring a goal

Carolina started the game with a lot of energy, taking early 2-0 and 3-1 leads to gain momentum.

“We played with a lot of aggression,” said Aho, who scored to make it 3-1 with just over 4 minutes left in the first period. “We did what we needed to do, and that strong start was crucial. We aim to replicate that in Game 5.”

The Hurricanes made changes to their power-play lineup, putting Skjei in the top group. Soon after a tripping penalty by Ryan Lindgren, Skjei scored the winning goal, prompting Teravainen and Aho to rush over and celebrate with him amidst a relieved home crowd.

“I always try to stay confident and believe I can make a difference,” Skjei said. “It doesn’t happen every game, but that’s our mindset moving forward: focus on winning each game.”

Will Cuylle, Barclay Goodrow, and Alexis Lafreniere scored goals for the Rangers, while Shesterkin made 27 saves.

“It’s challenging, we fell behind early,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette commented. “I don’t think it was due to lack of readiness. … We need to come out with more focus from the start.

“We showed effort, we were working hard, and we were trying to execute offensively. But defensively, there are areas where we could have been stronger, especially in the first period.”

Brady Skjei is congratulated by teammates

New York had won their first seven playoff games after sweeping Washington in the first round and taking the first three games of this series. They had the opportunity to become the first team to reach 8-0 in a postseason since Edmonton won its first nine games en route to winning the Stanley Cup in 1985.

Lafreniere brought the Rangers close to that feat when he took advantage of a mistake by Andersen. As Lafreniere approached from the right side, Andersen’s left skate extended past the post. Lafreniere then bounced the puck off Andersen’s left hip and into the net, tying the game 3-3 at 2:04 of the third period, much to the dismay of the home crowd.

The series began with the potential for intense drama because the Rangers, who won the Metropolitan Division, also claimed the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top regular-season team. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes, making their sixth consecutive playoff appearance, were considered the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, according to Bet MGM Sportsbook.

The games have been close, with the Rangers winning 4-3 in both Game 1 and 2, the latter in double overtime. They also won Game 3 in Raleigh with Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal for a 3-2 victory.

Frederik Andersen watches the puck go past him

However, the Rangers had been dominating in special teams, outscoring the Hurricanes 5-0 with four power-play goals and a shorthanded goal. In contrast, Carolina’s power play, which ranked second in the regular season, had struggled, going 0 for 15 in the series before Saturday.

Carolina failed to score on its first power play opportunity, but Skjei finally broke through for the Hurricanes when they needed it most.

“I still thought our penalty kill was strong,” Laviolette remarked. “They took a shot from the point, he fired it, and it found its way into the net. It was a tough shot from a difficult angle, with traffic in front of the net. A lot was happening there.”


By Christopher Kamila

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