RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes set an NHL record on Thursday night in their 3-1 Game 5 victory over the New York Rangers, as the home team won for the 12th straight time in their games since the start of the postseason.
But Game 6 is Saturday night back in New York City. To close out the Rangers, they’ll have to do something they’ve already failed to do five times in the Stanley Cup playoffs: Win on the road.
“It’s kind of beating a dead horse about not winning on the road,” said center Vincent Trocheck, who scored a shorthanded goal Thursday. “It’s no different. Same team, same game. It’s just a matter of us being prepared.”
The Hurricanes were quite prepared for Game 5, with the series tied 2-2. The 34-17 shot disparity was the largest of the series. The Rangers couldn’t get sustained pressure at 5-on-5 throughout the game, getting their lone goal on the power play from Mika Zibanejad at 17:06 of the first period.
That was especially true in the third period as New York tried to rally.
“Our third period was dominant. We played our game. We were just everywhere. We just have to move that game to the next game,” forward Andrei Svechnikov said.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour said the defensive effort was key considering the score.
“We limited their scoring opportunities, which is huge, especially considering we didn’t score a ton,” he said. “They were still in the game. It’s good that we didn’t give them opportunities, because they’re so talented.”
The Hurricanes scored in three different ways in Game 5: Trocheck on the penalty kill at 12:57 of the first period, on a perfect arial pass from center Jordan Staal; Teuvo Teravainen on the power play at 9:47 of the second, their first power-play goal since Game 6 against Boston; and Svechnikov on an even-strength breakaway at 13:01 of the third.
“Tonight, for some reason, we were prepared. The mentality on the bench didn’t change from the start of the game until the end,” Trocheck said. “We had confidence. We played hard the whole game. That’s just the way it has to be.”
That confidence got a boost in the second period when Rangers center Ryan Strome‘s goal was overturned for an offside on a coach’s challenge by the Hurricanes, as teammate Andrew Copp hadn’t cleared the zone before Strome touched the puck.
“It was huge. That would have made it 2-1. It would have been a very different game,” Svechnikov said. “But they said ‘no’ and all the guys said, ‘Let’s go,’ and we started playing our game.”
Their game was a defensive clinic, but very much in line with how the Hurricanes have played at home all postseason. They haven’t allowed more than two goals in any of their games at PNC Arena.
When the Rangers would get chances, goalie Antti Raanta was there, stopping 16 shots and running his save percentage on home ice to .965.
“That’s just the kind of game that we play. A hard-nosed game. That’s how we played all regular season, and we kind of got away from that in the first couple of games of this series,” Trocheck said. “If we play our game, I like our chances against anybody.”
Now they just have to do that away from home in Game 6, with a chance to eliminate the Rangers and move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference final.
The home team has won every game the Hurricanes have played through the first 12 games, breaking the previous record of 11 held by the 1962 Maple Leafs. If Carolina can’t win on the road for the first time, then it’s Game 7 back in Raleigh on Monday night, where the Rangers know they’ll need to break through to advance.
“I’m disappointed. We didn’t play our best game and we gotta win one game in here to win the series. Hopefully that’s Game 7,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “But we gotta be better than we were tonight. We weren’t competitive enough tonight.”