Smith, Raanta, Hurricanes top Rangers for 2-0 series lead
RALEIGH, N.C. — Brendan Smith scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period while Antti Raanta finished with 21 saves to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 2-0 on Friday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Smith’s goal off a feed from Sebastian Aho marked his first postseason goal in nine years, and it was the difference in a tightly defended game by both teams with little space to operate and even fewer traffic-free looks at the net.
Aho added a clinching empty-net score to finish this off with 1.8 seconds left as Raanta held up.
The Hurricanes had flirted with tallying a short-handed goal earlier in the game multiple times, including once when Teuvo Teravainen pinged the right post in the first period from the slot off a feed from Aho. It ended up foreshadowing the Hurricanes’ breakthrough score, with Aho skating in on the right side to set up Smith for a one-timer from the left that cleanly zipped past Igor Shesterkin for the putaway with 4:06 left in the second.
Carolina improved to 6-0 at home in the playoffs and has a 2-0 lead for the second straight round. Now they face the challenge of winning on the road for the first time in the postseason after claiming a seven-game first-round series against Boston in which no team managed a road win.
They’ll get their first chance to win at Madison Square Garden in Game 3 on Sunday. And the Rangers will try to mount another series comeback after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to beat Pittsburgh in a seven-game first-round series.
Shesterkin finished with 20 saves to lead the Rangers on a night with few offensive highlights.
The teams combined for 43 shots and had big penalty kills as well, with New York killing off more than a minute of 5-on-3 time while the Hurricanes scored their short-handed goal on a 4-minute kill for a double-minor high-sticking penalty on Brady Skjei.