SI:AM | Rangers Win the Longest Game of This Year’s NHL Playoffs

Madison Square Garden is the center of the sports universe right now.
Rangers celebrate double-OT win to take 2–0 series lead vs. Hurricanes.
Rangers celebrate double-OT win to take 2–0 series lead vs. Hurricanes. / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I watched the end of this game on my phone on a stalled train on the way home from the Yankees game. I wasn’t the only one on the train who yelled when Vincent Trocheck scored the game-winner.

In today’s SI:AM: 

🏈 NFL impact rookies
🏃‍♀️ A world record in ultrarunning
😞 A bad break for the Cardinals

Another day, another controversial call at MSG

Before it started, the second-round series between the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes had the makings of a classic. The teams finished with the two best records in the Eastern Conference (114 points for the Rangers, 111 for the Canes). Both teams have very few flaws, which helped them roll through the first round with ease. No one would be surprised if either of them ended up lifting the Stanley Cup next month. After two games, though, it’s been all Rangers. New York took a commanding 2–0 series lead with a thrilling 4–3 win in double overtime on Tuesday night. It was the second double-overtime game of this postseason and the longest game thus far (six minutes longer than the Hurricanes’ loss to the New York Islanders in Game 4 of the first round).

The issue for the Canes was clear: After leading the NHL in penalty killing this season, Carolina allowed the Rangers to tie and later win the game on power-play opportunities.

The Rangers struck first in the first period but the Canes scored twice to take a 2–1 lead into the first intermission. New York equalized midway through the second before Jake Guentzel’s goal gave Carolina a 3–2 lead heading into the final period. Five minutes into the third period, Carolina’s Dmitry Orlov was whistled for tripping and the Rangers immediately took advantage by scoring 45 seconds into the ensuing power play to tie the game.

The first overtime saw plenty of scoring chances for both teams, but neither was able to break through. The opening the Rangers needed came with 6:37 elapsed in the second overtime, when Carolina’s Brady Skjei (a former Rangers defenseman) was called for cross-checking. It was a borderline call at best—not the sort of penalty you usually see called at that stage in a playoff game. Moments later, Vincent Trocheck scored the winning goal.

The Rangers scored twice on seven power-play opportunities in Game 2. After going 2-for-4 on the power play in Game 1, New York has now converted on 36.4% of its man-up chances. Put another way, the Canes’ penalty-kill percentage is a dismal 63.6% in the series.

It’s a surprise that the Canes’ penalty killing has been so terrible, but maybe it shouldn’t be. They were the best team in the NHL at killing penalties in the regular season—and by a wide margin, too. Carolina killed 86.4% of its penalties, compared to 84.6% for the second-place Los Angeles Kings. But at the same time, the Rangers also have an elite power play, ranked third in the league, which makes the prospect of the Canes fixing their struggling penalty kill a difficult one.

Teams that take a 2–0 lead in a best-of-seven NHL playoff series have won about 86% of series, so the odds of the Hurricanes coming back to win are slim but not nonexistent. A lot can change when the series shifts to Raleigh, though. What the Canes need to fix is obvious. Fixing it is going to be a serious challenge, though.

Nov 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Brenden Rice (2) catches a pass vs. UCLA.
Rice (2) is among the late-round NFL draft picks worth keeping an eye on. / Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The best of Sports Illustrated

The top five…

… things I saw last night: 

5. Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s 19 straight strikes to start the game.
4. Derrick Jones Jr.’s powerful put-back dunk.
3. The lightning strike immediately before Michael Busch’s walk-off homer for the Cubs.
2. Avalanche goalie Alexander Georgiev’s save in overtime to keep his team alive.
1. Colorado winger Miles Woods’s game-winning goal.


Published |Modified
Dan Gartland

DAN GARTLAND

Dan Gartland is the writer and editor of Sports Illustrated’s flagship daily newsletter, SI:AM, covering everything an educated sports fan needs to know. Previously published on Deadspin and Slate, Dan also is a former Sports Jeopardy! champion (Season 1, Episode 5).