The Rangers got exactly what they needed.
Madison Square Garden was a towering inferno in Games 3 and 4, and a two-game hole is now 2-all. It has become a three-game series now after the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday. But while the Blueshirts have taken control of the series, location still favors Carolina.
Game 5 and — if necessary — Game 7 will be played in Raleigh. The Hurricanes are 6-0 there this postseason and 10-3 over the last two years. The losses all came to the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champion Lightning, who await the winner here.
To be Captain Obvious: The Rangers cannot win this series without winning a game at Carolina. So can they?
Previous results say yes. The Rangers lost Game 1 in overtime and Game 2 was another one-goal game, plus an empty netter. They controlled the last two games at the Garden. And they have Igor Shesterkin back at the top of his craft, which goes a long way.
Winning Game 5 would be ideal. The Hurricanes are dominant at home, but they’re also 0-5 on the road during the playoffs. So a hard-fought road win would not just “start” the series, as the cliche goes. It would also position the Rangers to end it at home in Game 6. A holiday weekend Saturday night clincher? There’s no way Carolina is getting through that scenario.
A Tampa Bay buzzsaw likely awaits on the other side. But after taking a big punch from Pittsburgh in that epic triple-overtime loss and then overcoming a 2-0 hole against the Hurricanes, they have a chance to keep this run going. As long as they can win on the road.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]