The Carolina Hurricanes are still unbeaten at home in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it took overtime.
The Canes fell behind the New York Rangers in the first period, tied the score late in the third and then won 2-1 on defenseman Ian Cole’s goal at 3:12 of overtime in Game 1 of their second-round series.
The Hurricanes, after some spotty play the first two periods, made a strong push in the third, tying the score on Sebastian Aho’s goal with 2:23 left in regulation.
Aho first had a shot hit the metal but moments later finally beat goalie Igor Shesterkin after a setup pass from Seth Jarvis. Shesterkin stopped Aho’s backhander in front by extending his left pad, but Aho tapped in the puck for his third goal of the playoffs and soon had the game in overtime.
Game 2 of the series is Friday night at 8 p.m., back at PNC Arena.
For much of the game, goalie Antti Raanta was Carolina’s best player, finishing with 27 saves as the Hurricanes struggled to find their game.
The Rangers converted a Tony DeAngelo turnover into a Filip Chytil goal at 7:07 of the first period and carried that 1-0 lead into the third period. With the Rangers limiting the Canes’ offensive chances and Shesterkin facing few serious threats, the Canes were forced to play from behind for the first time at home.
The Canes twice nearly tied the score 1-1 in the third on a Nino Niederreider breakaway, but the forward hit the crossbar with 7:23 left in regulation. But Aho would not be denied and Cole then won it.
The Rangers, who lost three of four to Carolina in the regular season, were the quicker, more aggressive and efficient team in the first 40 minutes of Wednesday’s game, They pounced on pucks, managed the puck better when they had it and kept the Canes to the outside when Carolina did get into the New York zone.
The Canes, who had not played since Saturday’s Game 7, outscored the Bruins 18-6 in the four games at PNC Arena. But they appeared a half-step slow in the first two periods against the Rangers, who were fueled by a Game 7 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday that came on Artemi Panarin’s overtime goal.
The Canes had eight shots in the opening period and managed just six in the second. Had Raanta not been sharp, the Canes’ margin could have been 2-0 or 3-0 as the Rangers outshot and outchanced Carolina.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour juggled his lines in the third and the Hurricanes made a strong push, but Shesterkin — considered the Vezina Trophy favorite — would not be beaten until the final three minutes of regulation.
The Rangers’ so-called “Kids Line” provided the first goal of the game and series. DeAngelo tried to pass the puck back to defenseman Jaccob Slavin out of the neutral zone, but New York’s Alexis Lafreniere swiped the puck and led a three-on-two rush into the Carolina zone.
Chytil, filling the right wing, scored his second career playoff goal as Raanta tried to get across the crease.
Brind’Amour’s line changes in the third included putting Teuvo Teravainen on Aho’s line and shifting Andrei Svechnikov and Martin Necas to Vincent Trocheck’s line. Max Domi, the hero of the Game 7 win over the Bruins, was moved to the fourth line.