Rangers loose, looking to close out Hurricanes in Game 6 | NHL.com (2024)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If the New York Rangers are tight after losing two games in a row they're certainly not showing it.

On Wednesday, they celebrated goals in their competitive practice drills like they have all season, hooting and hollering, raising arms. Those drills, as always, were aggressive and loud with sticks banging on the ice, talking, bodies banging, and intense battle for every loose puck.

Coming off the ice, forward Vincent Trocheck was playfully shoving forward Alexis Lafrenière through the bench doors, so much so that Lafreniere jokingly fell through the bench and down the step out the other side that leads toward New York's dressing room.

He popped up. He was fine.

"I was giving him the business," Trocheck said with a smile on his face as he started his media availability.

The Rangers say they're ready to give the Carolina Hurricanes the business again.

Their 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Second Round has dwindled to 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. They left their practice facility to go to the airport to travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to play Game 6 at PNC Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT, SNO, SNE, SN360, TVAS, CBC). They'd rather be resting and waiting to find out if they'll be playing the Florida Panthers or Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, but they can’t change that now.

Had someone told the Rangers before the series began that they would have a 3-2 lead going into Game 6 they would have taken it. It was, after all, predicted to be a close series between teams that were separated by three points in the regular-season standings.

Perspective has changed with how it got to 3-2, but the challenge hasn't.

"They're probably feeling good for a 3-2 series right now versus how we feel with a 3-2 series right now; that's just the reality of how we got to the situation," defenseman Jacob Trouba said. "But at the same point you're in a good spot, you need to win one game to close out a series and move into the next round."

The Rangers like their chances to win in Raleigh provided they don't play like they did in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Leading 1-0, they gave up three goals in the first 9:56 of the third period before the Hurricanes also got an empty-net goal with 3:31 left to win 4-1.

The Rangers were not aggressive or particularly engaged at 5-on-5, couldn't do anything in six minutes of power play time, and were way off with the details of the game, like connecting passes, staying in structure on the forecheck and battling for loose pucks.

"That was not our way," coach Peter Laviolette said.

Said defenseman K'Andre Miller, "I don't think we're comparing ourselves to that game. It's only up from here. I think we have a very motivated group to get one more win. I mean, I think we just need to play better. I think everybody in here knows that."

The Rangers believe they will because they have just about every time adversity hit them this season.

They were 19-8-0 in games following a loss of any kind in the regular season. They only lost more than two games in a row once, dropping four straight from Jan. 6-Jan. 13. That was part of a 10-game stretch when they went 3-6-1 but followed that by winning 10 games in a row, a team record for longest winning streak in a season.

They didn't play well and lost back-to-back games against the New York Islanders or Philadelphia Flyers on April 9 and 11, but when they had to win to lock up first place in the Metropolitan Division and win the Presidents' Trophy they did, coming back to defeat the Islanders 3-2 in a shootout on April 13 and blanking the Ottawa Senators 4-0 on April 15.

The Rangers were the comeback kings of the NHL in the regular season, leading the League with 28 comeback wins, including 14 when they were down in the third period.

In the playoffs, they're 3-1 in games the opponent has scored the first goal.

"There's oftentimes a realization of it wasn't us and who we want to be," Laviolette said, "and oftentimes this year, many times this year they fixed it."

They must fix a power play that has suddenly gone quiet. It started 4-for-9 in the series, 10-for-25 in the playoffs, but it is 0-for-8 with 10 shots on goal in the past three games.

The Hurricanes have had better chances shorthanded than the Rangers have had on the power play.

"They've been a little less aggressive than they normally are," Trocheck said. "I don't know if that's made it more difficult on us. I think it's more on us to be a little more sharp, execute a little better. Their penalty kill has been one of the best in the League for the last three years. It's not something we can just make light work of, but we do have to take the onus on ourselves. We know we have to help our team win the game. The penalty kill has been stepping up and it's time for the power play to kind of get back to where we were."

Similarly, it's time for the Rangers to be more aggressive and in an attack mode at 5-on-5. That was seriously lacking in Game 5, but it hasn't been consistent in the series. Carolina has had the better chances and the better of play at 5-on-5, including outscoring New York 11-9.

"There's a certain amount of speed and compete that goes into our game, a certain amount of details with defense, a certain amount of attack offensively," Laviolette said. "There are things that we have done that we all understand inside of our room that makes us successful. So we were off the mark in Game 5. We need to get back on the mark."

Rangers loose, looking to close out Hurricanes in Game 6 | NHL.com (2024)
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