RALEIGH, NC — The Carolina Hurricanes have home-court advantage with a clear record when they play in front of their raucous crowd. The New York Rangers have the resilience that has been proven with a perfect rating in knockout games.
They both build on those experiences in another Game 7 on Monday night, the second win-win matchup for each in this Stanley Cup Playoffs. The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for a clash with two-time defending Cup champion Tampa Bay.
The Hurricanes held off the Rangers for the Metropolitan Division title in a race that came down to the final week of the regular season. That, along with posting the third-best record in the NHL, gave them a second-round advantage at home at the PNC Arena – where they went 7-0 in the longest streak of any team in start a playoff since 2014.
“I think there’s confidence in general,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said Sunday. “We know when we play our game we are going to have a good chance. You can draw on whatever you want. “You have another day, so it’s a good opportunity.”
Home ice advantage proved critical to surviving a first-round series against a Boston Bruins team that had knocked the Canes out of the playoffs twice in the past three seasons, with Carolina winning a seventh game at home after losing all three games on the road.
The Hurricanes are back in that position – holding home service but losing all three road games to Rangers. Still, forward Vincent Trocheck and defenseman Tony DeAngelo both ignored whether being in the situation before had any value.
“I think we dwell a little too much on this house and outside,” Trocheck said. “I mean, it’s a hockey game. When you go out on the ice, you’re not really focused on whether you’re going to go back to your own bed after the game or whether you’re going to the hotel.
Carolina has been trying to improve to 7-0 in Game 7 since the former Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997. That includes the 2006 Stanley Cup Final against Edmonton with Brind’Amour as captain.
The Rangers aren’t fazed by the challenge, despite managing just one win in six road games during the playoffs. New York recovered from a 3-1 first-round deficit against Pittsburgh, including a road win in Game 6, and advanced with a home win in Game 7.
After winning three straight playoff games in this series, the Rangers rallied from a 0-2 deficit in this one and forced Game 7 with a 5-2 victory at Madison Square Garden – their fourth straight game in a playoff game during this playoffs.
“We found a way to win in Pittsburgh,” Rangers center Filip Chytil said after Saturday’s win. “It’s Game 7 now. We have to find a way to win the game and just play like we play at home.
The Rangers are playing their first Game 7 on the road since beating Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2014 playoffs, and they’re trying to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015.
The Hurricanes are trying to return to the Eastern Finals for the second time in four seasons. They made an unexpected run there in 2019 during Brind’Amour’s first season as coach, ending a nine-year playoff drought.
“You have to take advantage of those moments because it’s pretty cool,” said Brind’Amour, who said he was getting more nervous as a coach than when he was playing. “It’s pretty special to have an opportunity like this.”
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