The Rangers need to get just one win.
After the Rangers beat the Hurricanes 5-2 Saturday night at the Garden in Game 6 of their second-round playoff series — their fourth elimination contest of this postseason — they will advance to the Eastern Conference final for the first time in seven years if they win Game 7 on Monday night at Carolina.
The Bruins couldn’t win in Raleigh, NC, as the Hurricanes went 4-0 on home ice in a first-round series, which also went seven games. The Rangers haven’t been able to do it in their three tries so far in this series.
But the Rangers will have to be the first team to topple the Hurricanes in their house this postseason in order to earn the chance to avenge their 2015 conference final loss to the Lightning.
Carolina failed to clinch a series on the road in Game 6 for a second time and are now a jarring 0-6 in away games in this postseason.
The Rangers were a team on a mission from puck drop and the Garden crowd revealed in it. When Barclay Goodrow shockingly came out for pregame warmups and was ultimately announced as a starter (the utility forward had missed the previous 11 games with a suspected ankle fracture), the cheers were roaring. It was easily the loudest the building had been all season long.
Filip Chytil, reunited with his fellow Kid Line members, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, scored twice. The Rangers’ power play scored twice, on goals from Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, who netted his first tally of the series at 7:43 of the third period to cap the scoring on the night.
Even trade-deadline acquisition Tyler Motte got in on the action, opening the scoring in the Rangers’ two-goal first period, which set the tone for this one early.
Oh, and goalie Igor Shesterkin was brilliant with a head-turning stat line of 37 saves, two assists and two penalty minutes in his seventh playoff win. He became just the second goalie in Stanley Cup playoff history to record two assists and a penalty in the same game, joining Tom Barrasso, who did it in 1993 with the Penguins.
There were more goals scored through the first two periods Saturday than in any other game in this series. Despite trailing 2-0 at the start of the second period, the Hurricanes were able to respond to each of Chytil’s two goals for the Rangers in the middle frame.
After the Czech winger sniped one from the right circle early in the period, former Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei got the Hurricanes on the board off the rush roughly a minute and a half later. Chytil then went bar-down with a filthy backhander to make it 4-1 at 6:47 of the second. Vincent Trocheck, however, later cleaned up a rebound to pull Carolina within two heading into the second intermission.
Shesterkin and the Rangers were locked in from the start. The Hurricanes looked more like a light drizzle than a storm surge at the beginning, but the visitors strung together some suffocating stretches Shesterkin had to weather throughout the game.
The star goalie posted 15 saves in the opening 20 minutes, over which the Rangers were able to build a 2-0 lead.
In a quintessential Rangers sequence, Shesterkin closed the door on a Sebastian Aho breakaway before Motte scored at the other end for the 1-0 lead less than 7 ½ minutes in. That got the Garden crowd even more into the game than they seemingly were at the very start.
When Brendan Smith caught Lafreniere with a high stick to send the Rangers on the power play after, Zibanejad scored on a smooth move to the net that beat Carolina goalie Antti Raanta. With the 2-0 score, Zibanejad became the first Ranger to have goals in four straight games since Brendan Shanahan did it in 2007.