Rangers-Hurricanes series getting chippy heading into Game 4

Published 11:55 pm Monday, May 23, 2022

By Vin A. Cherwoo
AP Sports Writer

New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was displeased with the skirmish at the end of his team’s Game 3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.

One day later, he was ready to put it behind them.

“Last night in the heat of the moment, you’re (upset),” Gallant said Monday. “Game’s over and you get a big win. Today, you move on towards a huge game, so you don’t do something stupid. There’s opportunities to make sure you make people pay a price, but you don’t do that.

“You’re worried about winning the game and getting this series tied 2-2 and that’s the biggest thing.”

Gallant was angry after the buzzer of Sunday’s 3-1 win that cut the Rangers’ series deficit to 2-1, when Carolina forward Max Domi hit New York’s Ryan Lindgren and the defensemen struck him back, resulting in some fighting. The coach also had a verbal exchange with Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo.

“No, I wasn’t happy with the (things) at the end of the game they initiated,” Gallant said after Sunday’s game. “We didn’t do that when the games were close. They want to play like that, we got the guys that can match that.”

The Rangers will be looking to even the series in Game 4 on Tuesday night (7 p.m. EDT, ESPN).

On Monday, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour downplayed what happened.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s not like we have guys that send messages.”

Though he didn’t want to dwell on it, Gallant believed it could help his team get engaged.

“I don’t think it hurts us one bit,” he said. “I think it helps us. It’s good when guys get a little (upset) once in a while. We play better. It gets us more focused.”

Ryan Reaves, one of the Rangers players Gallant referenced who can respond, agreed.

“Some of those top guys, I think they start playing a little more physical and getting into battles a little more,” he said. “I think our team thrives on it. Some teams shy away, I think we do well with it.”

The Hurricanes aren’t concerned by it, and expect a playoff series to get physical.

“It’s playoffs, it’s pretty normal to get hit or make a hit,” Carolina forward Sebastian Aho said. “It’s intense and fast and it’s a battle out there, so there’s nothing new there. I’m not surprised if I get hit in a playoff game. Obviously you’ve got to be ready for it.”

Gallant shuffled his lines at the start of Game 3 after totaling one goal in the first two games. In the third period, he reverted to the usual combinations. He indicated there could be more changes for Game 4.

Brind’Amour mixed up his lines during practice Monday to try to get his team’s offense jump-started the same way.

The Hurricanes have struggled on the power play. After converting on 22% of their chances with the man-advantage during the season, they are at 11.6% during the playoffs — including 0 for 7 in this series.

“One group’s been actually very good creating a lot of chances,” Brind’Amour said. “Our so-called top unit hasn’t been very good. They’re the ones that have really struggled. Just trying to shake it up a little bit there and see where it goes. … We’ve got to find some goals.”

FLAMES at OILERS, Oilers lead 2-1 (9:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN)

The Calgary Flames know they need to figure out a way to contain Edmonton’s Connor McDavid as they try to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination.

McDavid has totaled two goals and seven assists in the first three games of the series, and has six goals and 17 assists through 10 playoff games. Only Wayne Gretzky (29 in 1983 and 25 in 1985), Mario Lemieux (25 in 1992) and Rick Middleton (23 in 1983) have more points in that number of games.

“We’ve let one guy beat us a few nights now,” Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “Back to the drawing board and figure out a way to stop him.”

On Sunday night, McDavid had three assists, including the primary one on two of Evander Kane’s three goals in a 4-1 win that gave the Oilers their second straight victory after losing a 9-6 slugfest in the series opener.

Edmonton scored four goals in a 12:06 stretch of the second period to jump ahead and cruise to the win at home.

“I think we had a lot of our younger guys that haven’t been in this situation before (and) were a little bit intimidated by the atmosphere,” Calgary coach Darryl Sutter said.