Rangers’ Artemi Panarin has multiple miscues in Game 4 to forget

RALEIGH, N.C. — Thursday night’s hero was one of Saturday night’s goats for the Rangers.

Two nights earlier inside a PNC Arena that wreaked of desperation, it was Artemi Panarin delivering a dagger to the hearts of the Hurricanes, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime for a 3-0 series lead for the Rangers.

That came minutes after Panarin stood in front of his teammates in the cramped PNC Arena visitors’ dressing room at the end of regulation urging them not to be discouraged by the fact that Carolina had just tied the game with a six-on-five goal and to remain “resilient’’ in OT.

Artemi Panarin skates away while Stefan Noesen (23) celebrates with Teuvo Teravainen (86) after scoring a goal during the Rangers' 4-3 Game 4 loss to the Hurricanes.
Artemi Panarin skates away while Stefan Noesen (23) celebrates with Teuvo Teravainen (86) after scoring a goal during the Rangers’ 4-3 Game 4 loss to the Hurricanes. Getty Images

Saturday night’s deflating 4-3 Rangers loss to Carolina in Game 4 at PNC Arena in a game in which they clawed back from a pair of two-goal deficits to have the game tied at 3-3 in the third period quickly devolved into quite a different story for them — and Panarin in particular.

With the Hurricanes already up 1-0 on an Evgeny Kuznetsov unassisted goal just 1:51 into the game that proved to be the first punch to the Rangers’ chin, Panarin was slightly late to get to a puck former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo got near the blue line.

That helped lead to a Stefan Noesen goal with Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba unable to clear Carolina’s Jordan Staal from the goal crease and a 2-0 Hurricanes lead at 6:33 of the first period.

Carolina center Martin Necas took the freed puck and fired a shot on Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin and Noeson buried the rebound.

After the Rangers cut the Carolina lead to 2-1 just 1:33 after the Noesen goal, Panarin appeared to get onto the ice for his shift a split-second late and then took a bad angle on Hurricanes center Jake Guentzel behind the Rangers net.

Moments later, Guentzel fed Sebastian Aho the puck in the slot with Panarin now shielded out by Aho in front of the net and Aho beat Shesterkin high over his left shoulder for a stunning 3-1 Carolina lead.

Artemi Panarin (10) loses control of the puck to Hurricanes' Jordan Martinook (48) and Jalen Chatfield (5) during the third period of the Rangers' Game 4 loss.
Artemi Panarin (10) loses control of the puck to Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook (48) and Jalen Chatfield (5) during the third period of the Rangers’ Game 4 loss. AP

It was the first time in this postseason the Rangers trailed by more than one goal.

“We didn’t play well enough on defense,’’ Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said in a TV interview with TNT between the first and second periods. “You make a mistake early and [the puck] is in the back of the net. You don’t pick up defensively and it’s in back of net.’’

To be clear: Panarin was hardly the sole reason the Rangers lost Game 4 and now must try to close out this series Monday night at the Garden to avoid a second trip to North Carolina.

But, two nights after he was the difference maker in the Rangers Game 3 win, he played a part in setting the Rangers up for early adversity _ even if they were subtle mistakes on his part.

“We dug ourselves a hole early,’’ Laviolette said after the game. “The [chances] that we gave up were pretty noisy. We’ve got to come out a little bit sharper than that. There were some things defensively I thought we could have been a little better with in the first period.’’

Asked specifically about Panarin’s errors, Laviolette, who never calls out his players in public, deflected any blame.

“Listen, they’ve got a good team out there, too, they’ve got strong players, too,’’ the protective coach said. “[Panarin] just managed to get caught on the wrong side of [Guentzel on the Aho goal] and you lose him for a second and … it’s not just [Panarin]. We could have been a little bit tighter with what we were doing, whether it was puck decisions or the coverage a little quicker to close.’’

The last thing the Rangers wanted to do in Game 4 was allow the Hurricanes to muster any hope early in the game.

“We wanted to rely on relentless pressure, and we had to do it in the first period or we weren’t going to be playing anymore,’’ Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour told TNT during the second-period intermission.

The shaky start for Panarin, who was not made available to reporters after the game, was somewhat ironic when you listen to the words from Carolina center Martin Necas before the game when he was asked about the Rangers’ leading scorer.

“He’s one of those players, like in the last game [Thursday], you could hardly notice him the whole game and there were two plays he makes and it’s game over,’’ Necas said. “With these players, you’ve really got to know where they are and if you don’t, that’s what happens.’’

On this night, it was the Hurricanes who got the better of Panarin, not the other way around.

First appeared on nypost.com

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