Rangers season on the brink after feeble loss to Hurricanes

The Rangers’ bubble life is suddenly in danger of popping.

A pair of goals in 71 seconds early in the second period sank the Rangers on Monday as they fell to the Hurricanes, 4-1, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena. They now trail 2-0 in the best-of-five series and will need a win Tuesday night to extend their stay in Toronto.

Henrik Lundqvist started again for Igor Shesterkin, who was still unfit to play, and made 30 saves. He had made sure the Rangers got to the first intermission tied 1-1, but any good feelings about the first 20 minutes were quickly flushed away in the first 2:22 of the second period.

Andrei Svechnikov struck three seconds into a power play on a knuckler that fluttered over Lundqvist’s shoulder for the 2-1 lead. Then Tony DeAngelo’s failed clearing attempt and a misplay by Filip Chytil gave way to a Jordan Martinook goal at 2:22 to make it 3-1, forcing David Quinn to call a timeout to regroup his team.

Quinn went on to jumble his lines starting midway through the second period, but none of the combinations could unlock the Rangers’ offense. Despite generating some better chances early in Game 2, their only production came when Artemi Panarin took advantage of a 5-on-3 to tie the game in the first period.

Svechnikov, meanwhile, finished off his hat trick late in the third period when he scored off a 2-on-1 that Lundqvist had little chance of stopping.

Of the seven goals the Rangers have allowed through two games in the series, four have come in the first five minutes of a period.

It was in that fashion that the first period started all too familiarly for the Rangers on Monday as they fell victim to another early Hurricanes goal. Sebastian Aho got a pass through DeAngelo and Svechnikov delivered the goal when he slipped a shot between Lundqvist’s side and right arm for the 1-0 lead at 4:32.

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But unlike Game 1, the Rangers responded before the period was over and did so on the power play that was a dismal 0-for-7 on Saturday. A pair of Hurricanes penalties gave the Rangers 1:22 of 5-on-3 and they didn’t let it go to waste. DeAngelo sent a sharp pass down to Ryan Strome, who slid the puck across to Panarin. The Hart Trophy finalist flung a shot top-shelf to beat Petr Mrazek and tie the game at one with 7:55 left in the period.

Mrazek (23 saves) recorded a pair of robberies in the first, stopping grade-A chances from Brett Howden and Mika Zibanejad to make sure the Rangers never led.

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