Rangers Resiliency, Igor Shesterkin among reasons why New York has commanding 2-0 lead over Hurricanes

It was hard to tell what was more important for the Rangers on Tuesday night – their remarkable resiliency -- a trait they’ve displayed all season -- or their impenetrable goalie, a wall known as “I-gor” to the fans who love to chant his name.

Or maybe it was one of their indispensable centers, Vincent Trocheck, who scored the winning goal in the second overtime period, led all skaters in ice time and continued his penchant in these playoffs for showing up in big moments. His power-play goal was his fifth goal of the playoffs and he’s scored at least one in each of the last five games, tying an old-timey team record.

Whatever the case, all of it was huge in the Blueshirts’ 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of their second-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers, who have won all six of their playoff games so far, hold a big 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that now shifts to Raleigh, NC, for the next two games.

Tuesday’s game was, as Peter Laviolette described it, “a roller coaster.” He loved the way the Rangers responded after they gave up late goals in both the first and second periods.

“Typically, in those games, whenever they go to overtime or double overtime, anybody can win,” Trocheck said. “Anything can happen. Just thankful it was us.”

But the Rangers made it happen against a team deemed by some to be the favorite in these playoffs. No wonder they have come-from-behind 31 times to win this season, including the playoffs. That matches the Rangers record set by the 2021-22 team.

Asked about Ranger Resiliency – yes, it should be capitalized if it’s going to be this much of a thing – Blueshirts captain Jacob Trouba said: “That’s something you build throughout the year. It’s not like we're grasping for something we've never, ever done or don't know how to do.

“Resilient, resilient effort. Stuck with it. Some chances, obviously. The power play comes up big with the big goal.”

Ah, a notable reminder – special teams are an enormous part of this Rangers team, too. In an anticipated battle of special teams behemoths – Carolina was ranked first in penalty killing and second on the power play during the regular season – the Rangers have dominated, even if Laviolette seemed uncomfortable with that word when it was framed in a question.

May 7, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal (11) in front of Rangers center Barclay Goodrow (21) during the second overtime of game two of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden.

But they are 10-for-10 killing penalties in the series, having blanked Carolina’s power play in five tries in each game. After going 2-for-7 on the power play in Game 2, the Rangers are 4-for-9 with a man advantage. That’s a 44.4 percent success rate, and their 10 goals overall on the PP are the most of any team in the playoffs.

Igor Shesterkin, the subject of so many chants throughout the night, made 54 saves to become the first Rangers goalie to have multiple 50-save games in his playoff career.

It was, Trocheck said, “an Igor-esque game. ... He faced 55 shots or something like that (actually 57). It’s insane. Whenever he’s on like that, it’s tough to beat him and it’s tough to beat our team.”

“Obviously, we don't win that game without him,” added Trouba. “He’s a huge part of this team. It’s no secret. A lot of big, big saves. There's not much else you can say – the effort, the tenacity, everything that he brings every night. How bad he wants to win, what he brings to the team, you can't really put a measurement on.”

The Rangers also got a terrific night from Alexis Lafrenière, who scored their first two goals. It was a continuation of his breakout regular season in which the 22-year-old former No. 1 overall pick set career bests in goals, assists and points.

Lafrenière did not have a point in the playoffs last season, but he’s got two goals and five assists so far.

“When a player is going and you can see it, you find some extra minutes for him and that’s the same way it was in the regular season,” Laviolette said. “He’s just, I think, taken the regular season and the confidence he got from that.”

So have the Rangers, who are soaring as they head to Carolina because of their resiliency, their hot, superstar goalie and multiple skaters, like Trocheck, delivering in key moments. Even in hyper-close playoff games.