Skjei’s PP goal keeps Hurricanes’ season alive in 4-3 Game 4 win

Hurricanes defenseman Brady Skjei celebrates with teammates Sebastian Aho (24) and Teuvo Teravainen (86) after his go-ahead power play goal in the third period of Game 4 in Carolina’s 4-3 win over the Rangers in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — One would think Rod Brind’Amour would have loved to see the Hurricanes score early and often and coast to a win in Saturday’s Game 4 against the Rangers at PNC Arena.

Carolina got the first part done, scoring three times in the first period, but found itself tied as time wound down in the third period. Another overtime — the Hurricanes lost Games 2 and 3 of the series after regulation — loomed. Then Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook was tripped by Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren, setting up just the third power play of the game.

Instead of the comfortable win, Brind’Amour and his Hurricanes were instead presented with a chance to kill two birds with one stone: finally get a win and end an 0-for-16 run on the power play in the series.

The stone turned out to be a point shot from Carolina defenseman Brady Skjei, who one-timed a Teuvo Teravainen pass past Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (27 saves) 32 seconds into the power play to keep the Hurricanes’ season alive with a 4-3 win.

“I don’t care,” Brind’Amour said when asked if getting the game-winner on the struggling power play was preferential to an easy win. “You just gotta get W’s this time of year.”

The Hurricanes only have one, but they now also have hope.

“That’s kind of our mindset going forward here is just win the day,” Skjei said. “We’re still win-or-go-home, so every game from here on out is gonna be the same message in the locker room.”

The Rangers seemed poised to end the Hurricanes’ season for the second time in three years.

After Carolina built its 3-1 advantage in the first 20 minutes, New York chipped away at the lead.

Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen (22 saves) couldn’t corral a puck behind the net, allowing the Rangers to get a quick shot on goal and then another from the point by New York defenseman Braden Schneider. Barclay Goodrow — long ago an invitee to Hurricanes prospect development camp — redirected the shot to shave the lead to one goal, making it 3-2 just past the midway point of regulation.

Then early in the third period, Alexis Lafreniere — who had three goals in the first three games of the series — dipped below the goal line and backhanded a shot off Andersen’s backside and in to tie the game at 2:04 of the final frame.

“I was trying to get back and obviously it didn’t work out that time,” Andersen said. “So that’s when your mental strength’s got to kick in and move on as quick as possible, try to make that next save.”

Andersen reset and the Hurricanes pushed back, getting six of the next nine shots on goal as time wound down.

Then Martinook jabbed the puck forward after Lindgren had gloved it just inside the New York blue line and accelerated past the Rangers defenseman to draw the penalty.

“He plays 100% all the time, and obviously he’s a really fast skater,” Hurricanes forward Jake Guentzel said. “So just a great play by him to take it to the net and draw that penalty. That’s a big-time moment for us.”

It set the stage for Skjei and Teravainen — both shuffled onto the top power play unit after being on the team’s secondary group much of the season and playoffs — to force Game 5.

“Giving up that lead was tough,” Skjei said, “but it was nice to finally get one on the power play.”

The Hurricanes couldn’t have been in position to win without the depth scoring that had been lacking all series. Goals by a pair of fourth-liners gave Carolina an early 2-0.

In the game’s opening minutes, New York’s Goodrow threw an errant pass into the neutral zone that Evgeny Kuznetsov stole. The veteran center carried the puck back into the Rangers zone and fired a shot over Shesterkin’s right shoulder for a 1-0 Carolina lead just 1:51 into the game.

The Hurricanes’ second goal was more on brand.

The Jordan Staal line cycled in the Rangers’ zone and then got a keep at the blue line from defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who sent the puck around the boards to Teravainen. Teravainen circled into the left circle and took a spinning shot that hit Shesterkin’s pads and went right to a charging Stefan Noesen, who backhanded the rebound over the New York goalie’s blocker for a 2-0 Carolina lead at 6:33.

The Rangers answered with a goal by rookie Will Cuylle, who split the Carolina defense and beat Andersen to halve the lead at 8:06. The Hurricanes responded late in the period, with Guentzel setting up Sebastian Aho for his first goal of the series at 15:29 of the first.

The Rangers’ comeback and Skjei’s subsequent game-winner ensured both teams will head back to the Big Apple, and now the pressure is shifted onto the Rangers.

“Tonight, you feel good about it,” Brind’Amour said. “And then we have to get back out here tomorrow, and we’re gonna have to repeat.”

Notes: Guentzel finished with game highs in shots on goal (6) and shot attempts (9). … Shesterkin’s streak of 30 playoff games not allowing more than three goals ended. He allowed six goals on May 9, 2022, against the Penguins. … Teravainen had two assists for his first multipoint playoff game since May 14, 2022, in a Game 7 win over the Bruins. … Carolina limited the Rangers to just eight 5-on-5 shot attempts in the third period.