Rangers fail to close out Hurricanes in Game 5 at home

ByGreg Wyshynski ESPN logo
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said their failure to close out the Carolina Hurricanes at home in Game 5 presents an important character test for his team.

"I don't think we thought this was going to be a cakewalk," Trouba said after the Rangers' 4-1 loss on Monday night, which narrowed New York's series lead to 3-2. "We've lost two games [in a row]. We're facing a little adversity. We'll see what we're made of going down to Carolina for Game 6."

The Rangers entered the third period with a 1-0 lead thanks to Trouba's short-handed goal in the second frame. But the desperate Hurricanes took over the game by scoring three goals in 6:23.

Jordan Staal evened the score with his first goal of the playoffs. Just 3:06 later, Evgeny Kuznetsov netted his fourth of the postseason to give Carolina the lead. Jordan Martinook added a critical third goal before Martin Necas sealed the win with an empty-netter.

"It kind of snowballed quick on us. This was a bad period," Trouba said. "It's different than a regular season, where you feel bad all night and tomorrow you wake up and you're upset. You got to turn the page quick."

His teammate, Vincent Trocheck, didn't see the third period the same way.

"I don't know if I'm going to say something snowballed tonight," he said. "They scored a couple goals in the third. It's a seven-game series against a team that was three points behind us in the regular season. We knew it wasn't going to be easy."

Coach Peter Laviolette also didn't believe the third period was the reason New York dropped Game 5.

"It was more than the third period. We weren't sharp. We gave up way too many chances in the first period and then it died off after that," he said.

The Rangers' power play, which scored 10 goals in five games during a recent stretch against Washington and Carolina, went scoreless for a third straight game, the unit's longest dry spell since March.

Meanwhile, Carolina scored three goals at even strength against New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin, marking the first time Shesterkin allowed three goals in the third period of a playoff game.

Hurricanes captain Staal said the team is starting to feel like itself again.

"Yeah, obviously wins help. But we really believe we had some good games [to start the series], but we had some mistakes, especially with the special teams, and that's gotten a lot better," he said. "I think our 5-on-5 game has been really good and it's coming together more and more.

"Wins are nice. We've got to just keep fighting."

Staal has played in 146 playoff games during his NHL career and has seen how hard it is to finish an opponent.

"Game 5s are tough, especially when you're at home. You don't want to go back on the road and you want to close it out," he said. "But we gave it all we got, we found a way to get a win and we're going to have to do it all over again."

Trouba took an optimistic approach to the Game 5 loss: Since the Rangers won the first three games of the series, there was some margin for error.

"Obviously we want to close out series, but we put ourselves in a position that we get a couple cracks at it," he said. "We played good games in Carolina. We know we can play in that building, and we'll go down there and bring a better game."

Game 6 is Thursday night in Raleigh.