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Hurricanes blank Rangers to take 2-0 series lead

May 20, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) holds onto the puck against Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce (22) during the first period  in game two of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Brendan Smith scored a short-handed goal in the second period to fuel the host Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Raleigh, N.C.

Former Rangers backup goaltender Antti Raanta registered his first career postseason shutout by making 21 saves for the Hurricanes, who seized a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is on Sunday afternoon in New York.

Sebastian Aho set up Smith’s goal before sealing the win by scoring into the empty net with two seconds to play in the third period.

Carolina has won its first six playoff games in 2022 to set a franchise record for the longest postseason-opening home winning streak, besting its 5-0 mark in 2019.

Vezina Trophy finalist Igor Shesterkin finished with 20 saves for the Rangers, who mustered just two shots on goal while going 0-for-4 on the power play.

Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin were each held without a shot on goal Friday. Kreider recorded a career-high 52 goals during the regular season and a team-leading five against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, while Panarin led the team in assists (74) and points (96) this season.

Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking penalty on Alexis Lafreniere with 6:59 remaining in the second period.

The Hurricanes, however, held New York without a shot to begin the power play and drew first blood with 4:06 left.

Aho raced up the right wing and wristed a feed between the legs of Rangers defenseman Adam Fox to Smith, who directed the puck inside the left post. The postseason goal was the first for Smith since May 18, 2013.

Smith, who spent parts of the previous five seasons with New York, joined Mike Commodore as the lone defensemen in Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise history to score a short-handed goal in the NHL playoffs. Commodore accomplished the feat in Game 1 of the 2006 Eastern Conference finals against the Buffalo Sabres.

–Field Level Media