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Hurricanes use aggressive start, strong penalty killing to top Rangers in series opener

Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Hockey

Brady Skjei got in the first blow, a big one.

Jaccob Slavin scored the first goal on the first shot, also a big one.

And Justin Williams won the first fight of the postseason, dropping the gloves to throw some 38-year-old fists.

The Carolina Hurricanes came into Game 1 of their NHL qualifying series Saturday against the New York Rangers in a combative, intense mood, ready to fight, skate, compete and do whatever it took to win a postseason game unlike any other in NHL history.

The Canes outlasted the Rangers 3-2, using some timely goals, aggressive penalty killing and strong-enough play in net from goalie Petr Mrazek to gain the early edge in the best-of-five series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

"I'm happy with the way we came ready to play, no doubt about it," Canes coach Rod Brind'Amour said.

 

Brind'Amour elected to start Mrazek ahead of James Reimer while the Rangers' starter was the Canes' old nemesis, Henrik Lundqvist. Rangers rookie Igor Shesterkin was ruled "unfit to play," an unexpected twist, but was at the arena and could be available for Game 2 on Monday.

Slavin scored just 1:01 into the game and Sebastian Aho, who assisted on Slavin's goal, gave the Canes a 2-0 lead in the second period with a power-play score. Martin Necas scored in the third period -- his shot glancing off the skate of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal -- for a 3-1 lead.

Mika Zibanejad, another player who has tormented the Canes, scored the Rangers' first goal and Staal's short-handed goal in the third pulled New York within 3-2 with 1:55 left in regulation. The Rangers pulled Lundqvist in the final minute but could not tie the score.

"I thought we played a team that was pissed off because we had beaten them four times during the year," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "They set the pace and the tempo and it took us too long to respond to it."

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