There are no two greater words in all of sports than “Game Seven.”
And a marquee NHL Game 7 on Memorial Day carries with it the potential of an unforgettable second-round battle between the New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes will host the Rangers on Monday night, with the puck set to drop at 8 p.m. (ET) from PNC Arena.
Historically, teams that manage to score first in an NHL postseason Game 7 go on to win 75 percent of the time.
Though it’d be in New York’s best interest, as well as Carolina’s, to build the first lead of the contest, the Rangers and coach Gerard Gallant will likely be keen on keeping the Hurricanes from starting ahead and controlling the contest according to their preferred pace — which the Hurricanes can adeptly pull off unlike most teams in the NHL.
As the Hurricanes welcome the Rangers to PNC, one motif in this series has been the home team’s bona fide advantage.
This postseason, Carolina has been a monster at home: going undefeated (7-0) when in Raleigh compared to six straight losses on the road (minus-16 goal differential).
Though New York currently carries the momentum after pushing the series to seven games with a 5-2 win from Madison Square Garden on Saturday, they’ll need a Herculean performance, notably on offense, if they want to challenge Carolina at home.
New York will have to brace itself for an amplified Carolina defense at home, which the Rangers have circled on their notes after only tallying two total scores in their three visits to Raleigh this series.
Ranger and Russian player Igor Shesterkin has showcased the grit and potential to aid the Rangers in pulling off the road upset: averaging a .955 save percentage, 1.16 goals-against average, 3.26 goals saved above replacement against Carolina this series.
In Game 6, Shesterkin found a way to show up on the offensive end with a historic feat: becoming just the fifth goalie to record two assists in a playoff game in NHL history, as relayed by OutKick’s Nick Geddes.
What may fall in New York’s favor is the uneven play from Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta, who was pulled amid the Game 6 loss.
Raanta will be playing his 11th game in 22 days — setting some expectations for the starter to potentially be worn down on Monday night. The Rangers will hope to see that from Raanta in their road trip, rather than his usual dominance from home — accruing a .965 save percentage and a 0.97 goals-against average in Carolina’s seven consecutive home victories.
Monday’s winner will move on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals.
New York Rangers (52-24-6, 25-14-2 Away) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (54-20-8, 29-8-4 Home)
Moneyline: NYR: (+122) | CAR: (-146)
Spread: NYR: +1.5 (-220) | CAR: -1.5 (+180)
Total: 5.5 – Over: (+116) I Under: (-142)
Odds to Win Stanley Cup: NYR: (+1200) | CAR: (+650)