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Hurricanes stave off elimination, upend Rangers in Game 5 of NHL playoffs

NEW YORK — It turns out the New York Rangers are going to have to sweat this one out.

Visions of a second straight playoff sweep were erased when they lost Game 4 in Carolina on Saturday, but a return home to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 felt like a fitting place to finish off the pesky Hurricanes.

Except it didn’t happen that way.

The Rangers took a one-goal lead into Monday’s third period, but that’s when the Canes pounced. They poured in four goals in the final frame, including three in a span of 6:23, to wipe away their deficit and hand the Blueshirts a gut-punch 4-1 loss.

And now we have a series.

New York still leads 3-2 overall, but a return trip to Carolina − where the Hurricanes have won 16 of their last 21 playoff games − for Game 6 on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET is next on an increasingly difficult docket.

If momentum is a thing in the playoffs, it has shifted firmly in the Canes’ favor.

Slipping away

A scoreless first period featured quality chances both ways, but the Canes were making a strong push in the second when a tripping penalty on Jack Roslovic sent them to the power play.

The fear was that Carolina would carry momentum from Brady Skjei’s game-winning goal on Saturday, which snapped an 0-for-16 skid for its PP to begin this series. But the Rangers’ vaunted penalty kill, which has been arguably their biggest strength in these playoffs, went right back to its dominant ways.

The key play came from Jacob Trouba, who was on ice for all four Canes’ goals in Game 4 but responded with a bounce-back performance on Monday. He blocked a shot from Sebastian Aho, scooped up the loose puck and carried it coast-to-coast for New York’s fourth shorthanded goal of the playoffs.

That made it 1-0 at the 6:23 mark, with the Rangers carrying that lead into the final period.

That’s when things took a sharp turn in the Hurricanes’ favor. They hadn’t been able to solve Igor Shesterkin for the first 40-plus minutes, but they made the Blueshirts pay for taking a passive approach to begin the third.

Jordan Staal netted the tying goal off a failed Rangers’ clear, blowing by defenseman Braden Schneider before reaching around Shesterkin for a backhanded finish. That made it 1-1 with 16:27 to play, with Carolina continuing to swarm from there.

Evgeny Kuznetsov struck next for his second goal in as many games, beat Artemi Panarin to the net to bury a rebound from Skjei that turned out to be the winning goal.

Jordan Martinook scored to make it 3-1 with 10:04 to play before an empty-netter from Martin Necas sealed.

Vincent Z. Mercogliano is the New York Rangers beat reporter for the USA TODAY Network. Read more of his work at lohud.com/sports/rangers/ and follow him on Twitter @vzmercogliano.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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