Another night, another OT loss: Hurricanes on brink of elimination after Game 3 loss

Carolina is down 3-0 in the series

Rangers Erik Gustafsson, Artemi Panarin, Vincent Trocheck and Alexis Lafrenière celebrate after Panarin scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 3 Thursday in Raleigh. (Chris Seward / AP Photo)

RALEIGH — The Rangers are one win away from the Eastern Conference final.

The Hurricanes are one loss away from a reckoning.

Carolina lost 3-2 in overtime Thursday at PNC Arena, putting them in a 3-0 hole in the series and shifting its season into “need a miracle” mode.

Rangers star Artemi Panarin made a beautiful redirection 1:42 into overtime, rattling the puck under goalie Pyotr Kochetkov’s arm and pushing the Hurricanes to the brink of elimination.

Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour — much like he did last season when Carolina was swept by Florida in the Eastern Conference final — praised his team’s play despite the result.

“We’re focusing on how bad we’re playing, but we’re really playing pretty damn good,” Brind’Amour said. “And I look at that, I’m separating. There’s two games going on here, and If you want to write the right story, that’s what’s going on.

“And we’re losing one badly, but we’re doing pretty damn good on the other one. So it’s just how we can figure out how to make this story get a little better. That’s the difference.”

The story that counts isn’t going Carolina’s way, but the Hurricanes did put up a fight. After Alexis Lafreniere’s goal off a perfect pass from Mika Zibanejad gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 6:25 of the third period, Carolina found a way to force overtime.

With Kochetkov (23 saves) on the bench for an extra attacker and the Hurricanes desperate to drop a third straight game, Brady Skjei’s point shot shattered Sebastian Aho’s stick in front. The puck, however, kicked into the slot, and Andrei Svechnikov shot it over the right shoulder of Igor Shesterkin (45 saves) to tie the game with 1:36 left in regulation.

Kochetkov — playing for the first time since April 14 — made several big stops, including poke-checking away a Chris Kreider breakaway bid with 35 seconds left in regulation.

“He played great. Kootchie played great,” Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal said. “Can’t really say much other than that. It was good to see the kid play a good game.”

The Hurricanes’ power play did not.

For the third straight game, Carolina went 0 for 5 on the power play — and even found a way to further damage its chances.

On top of allowing the late-game chance for Kreider, Carolina defenseman Brent Burns fumbled the puck at the point on a second period power play, leading to a rush the other way. The speedy Kreider beat Burns back up ice to create a 2-on-1 and converted a pass from Zibanejad for a shorthanded goal that tied the game 1-1 at 8:30 of the second.

“I don’t know if I agree with you on that,” Brind’Amour said when asked about Burns’ struggles. “I thought he made, actually, some good rushes and had some good opportunities around the net there floating some in. But I would disagree with you a little bit there.”

But Brind’Amour’s actions said otherwise. Burns was pulled off the power play, with Tony DeAngelo elevated to the top unit and Skjei reunited with the second group.

Not that it mattered.

The Hurricanes managed 11 shots on five power plays but couldn’t dent the Rangers’ penalty kill.

“It’s a little bit of a broken record,” Staal said. “Obviously, I think our special teams could have been better. The power play’s gotta sneak in a couple goals or a goal or two, just get us in a better position to end games.”

Carolina also needs its depth players to show up in the series.

Jake Guenztel continued his hot streak in playoff games against the Rangers by opening the scoring halfway through the first period, and Aho has assisted on six of the Hurricanes’ eight goals in the series.

Svechnikov, who won a puck battle in the corner to help set up Guentzel’s goal  — giving the deadline acquisition at least one point in all 10 of his career playoff games against New York — continued to impact the series, setting a tone with his physicality and scoring with the extra attacker to give the Hurricanes hope.

Now Carolina needs to find hope elsewhere to avoid seeing its season end in Saturday’s Game 4.

“It hurts. You’ve got to be realistic,” Brind’Amour said. “They’re probably as down as they’re ever going to be, and you’ve got to feel that. That’s the ‘keep it real’ part of it. But then you’ve got to pick yourself up. So come back tomorrow and we’re still playing.”

Notes: Rangers forward Filip Chytil, who hadn’t played since Nov. 2, made his return to the lineup. He played 12:02 with one shot on goal. … All 18 Hurricanes skaters finished with a shot on goal. … Svechnikov led all players with six shots on goal, 11 shot attempts and six hits. … Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to the lineup after being scratched for Game 2, finishing with four shots on goal and eight shot attempts in 12:04. He lost 8 of 10 faceoffs.