Skjei ends Carolina's power-play woes, helps Hurricanes beat Rangers 4-3 to extend 2nd-round series

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Carolina Hurricanes' Brady Skjei (76) is congratulated by teammates Bradly Nadeau (29) and Teuvo Teravainen (86) after his winning goal during the third period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series against the New York Rangers in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes turned their last stand into a season-extending victory. Incredibly, it was the struggling power play that got them there.

Brady Skjei scored on the power play with 3:11 left to help the Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 4-3 on Saturday night, staving off a sweep by winning Game 4 of the second-round playoff series.

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Skjei's shot from the the point came off a feed from Tuevo Teravainen, with the puck zipping past Igor Shesterkin to catch the upper-right corner of the goal and bang into the net. That was Carolina's first goal with the man advantage in 17 tries in the series, and it finally pushed Carolina ahead for good on a night when the Hurricanes squandered a two-goal lead.

No matter, though. The Hurricanes survived to fight another day in the NHL playoffs.

“I don't care," coach Rod Brind'Amour said of whether there was extra significance to getting the winner with the man advantage. “Not tonight. We've just got to get Ws at this time of year.”

The Rangers get another closeout chance Monday night with the 3-1 lead when the series returns to Madison Square Garden for Game 5.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Stefan Noesen and Sebastian Aho each scored for Carolina, while Frederik Andersen finished with 22 saves as the Hurricanes try to become the fifth team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series and first since 2014.

Everything started with Carolina showing plenty of jump in the first period, running out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads to build momentum.

“Obviously we played a lot of aggression,” said Aho, who finished a feed from Jake Guentzel from near the slot for the 3-1 lead with 4:31 left in the first period. "We kind of did what we needed to do. That was a strong start. We want to do that again (in Game 5).”

The Hurricanes tweaked their power-play unit to put Skjei on the top group. And roughly 30 seconds after a tripping penalty by Ryan Lindgren, Skjei converted the winner to send Teravainen and Aho rushing over to hug him and have a tense home crowd roaring in gleeful relief, even if Skjei felt “definitely celebration” instead.

“I feel like going into every game, you try to feel confident and feel you can be the guy to do it,” Skjei said. “Obviously it doesn't happen every night or that often. But that's kind of our mindset going forward here, just win the day.”

Will Cuylle, Barclay Goodrow and Alexis Lafreniere scored for the Rangers, while Shesterkin finished with 27 saves.

“It’s tough, we dug ourselves a hole early,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don’t think it was because we weren’t ready to play. ... We’ve got to come out a little bit sharper than that.

“We were competing, we were working, we were trying to do our job offensively. But there’s some things defensively that I thought we could’ve been a little bit better in the first period.”

New York had won their first seven playoff games after sweeping Washington in Round 1 and taking the first three of this series, and had a chance to become the first team to reach 8-0 in a postseason since Edmonton won its first nine games on the way to claiming the Stanley Cup in 1985.

Lafreniere had the Rangers within reach of that when he capitalized on a mistake by Andersen, who let his left skate extend past the post as Lafreniere skated in on the right side. As he skated toward the boards, Lafreniere bounced the puck off Andersen’s left hip, then into the net for the 3-3 tie at 2:04 of the third period that deflated the home crowd.

The series began with the potential for heavy drama considering the Metropolitan Division-winning Rangers also won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top regular-season team, while the Hurricanes — in the playoffs for the sixth straight season — finished three points behind and entered the NHL playoffs as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup, according to Bet MGM Sportsbook.

The tight finishes have been there with the Rangers winning 4-3 in both Game 1 and 2 — the latter in double overtime — and then taking Game 3 in Raleigh on Artemi Panarin’s OT score for the 3-2 win. But the Rangers had been winning the special-teams battle in a landslide, outscoring the Hurricanes 5-0 with four power-play goals and a shorthanded score while Carolina’s No. 2-ranked regular-season power play entered Saturday at 0 for 15 in the series.

Carolina came up empty on its first power play, but Skjei finally gave the Hurricanes a desperately needed breakthrough.

“I thought the penalty kill was still good," Laviolette said. "They took a shot from the point, he hammered it, it had eyes. It was a tough corner shot, traffic in front of the net. There was a lot going on there.”


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