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Hurricanes’ special teams woes continue in Game 2 loss

SportsHurricanes' special teams woes continue in Game 2 loss

Vincent Trocheck‘s double-overtime goal was the perfect encapsulation of the New York Rangers‘ series against the Hurricanes so far: It was scored on a Rangers power play during another failure for Carolina’s penalty kill.

“Not much else to talk about. It’s pretty evident,” Carolina captain Jordan Staal said after New York’s 4-3 victory to take a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday night. “The PK’s got to kill. If our power play converts on probably one [chance], we probably win. Everyone in the room knows our special teams need to be better.”

The Rangers went 2-for-7 on the power play in Game 2, after needing only 23 seconds to score twice on two opportunities in Game 1. For the playoffs, New York has 10 goals on 25 power-play opportunities (40%). Outside of the Edmonton Oilers, no one’s been hotter with the man advantage.

It’s not just how many power-play goals the Rangers score, but when they score them.

The Rangers tied the score at 3 on a power play, as Chris Kreider converted for his third goal of the playoffs at 6:07 of the third period with Dmitry Orlov in the penalty box for tripping.

Trocheck’s double-overtime winner was scored with Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei serving a penalty for cross-checking. Trocheck has scored in five straight games to join Cecil Dillon (5 GP in 1933) for the longest postseason goal streak in Rangers history.

That call on Skjei drew criticism on social media and during the broadcast for not being as emphatic as one might expect for a penalty whistled at 6:37 of the second overtime.

Staal was asked after the game if the Rangers were going down too easy on plays to draw penalties.

“Good question,” he said, before a lengthy pause to collect his thoughts. “It’s hard for the refs to know how hard guys hit other guys. It is what it is.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have been completely blanked on the power play against the Rangers. They were 0-for-5 in Game 1 and in Game 2, as the Rangers penalty kill went 10-for-10 to open the series.

“We’ve got to definitely be sharper. We’ve got to get inside. We’re all on the outside. That’s not how we do it. We’ve got to get back to doing it the way we know how to,” coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin has been a factor on that perfect penalty kill, stopping all 10 power-play shots that he’s faced. That included two saves on Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho in overtime, sparking more chants of “I-GOR!” from Rangers fans.

“MSG was electric tonight. It’s an unbelievable feeling every time. [I was] almost crying,” Shesterkin said of the chants.

Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba said: “That’s Igor … we don’t win that game without him.”

The Hurricanes had the best penalty kill (86.4%) and second-best power play (26.9%) in the regular season. In the first round against the Islanders, the Hurricanes went 5-for-15 with the man advantage — although they did allow three power-play goals on 11 opportunities.

But in this round, they’re getting dominated.

“That part of the game is going well right now,” Trouba said. “That can change. Obviously, we’d like it to stay this way, but you don’t want to win games strictly that way.”

Game 3 is Thursday night in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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