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Keys to Victory: Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers (Game 6)

With just one series left in the second round, all eyes shift to the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. Get ready for Saturday's affair.
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With just one series left in the second round, all eyes shift to the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers.

And what a series it's been, albeit a bit predictable. The home team has won each game, with both teams posting near-perfect records at home throughout the playoffs – other than New York's triple-overtime loss to Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the first round, of course.

So, the series shifts back to Madison Square Garden in Game 6, a must-win for the Rangers after losing Game 5. It's been a tight series where momentum has been important, but anything can happen with the stakes this high.

Here's what you need to know ahead of Saturday's contest:

The Rangers have been here before

Despite playing a banged-up Penguins team using a third-string goaltender, the New York Rangers fell down 3-1 in the first round at one point before winning three straight.

So, the Rangers have really stepped up their games in elimination contests, and that mindset needs to be applied tonight, especially as the series shifts back to Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won both games at home, and the Hurricanes have struggled with no wins on the road in two series'.

The Rangers need to come out hungry and get into Carolina's heads – especially goaltender Antti Raanta. The Rangers have outscored opponents at home in the playoffs 24-14, and while that isn't a realistic number to just say "yes, it's New York's game, for sure," they've done enough damage at home in the playoffs with a 5-1 record to say they'll come swinging. 

They don't have another choice, do they?

Antti Raanta needs to be the better goalie

Among all goalies with at least nine games played, Antti Raanta's .942 save percentage (second) and 4.46 goals saved above average at 5-on-5 (third) has made him one of the best goalies in the playoffs. Shesterkin is third and second in the two stats respectively, with Shesterkin having the slight edge in this specific series.

Shesterkin was a huge reason why the Hurricanes won the first-round matchup against Pittsburgh in the end after a shaky first half. Raanta has also had to be great, but he's going to have to truly be the difference-maker if Carolina is to close the series out on Saturday and avoid a Monday clash.

Raanta's playof resume – like Shesterkin's – is quite low, but he's been spectacular for the Hurricanes in these playoffs and a big reason why the Hurricanes have managed to overcome challenges along the way. He was especially good in the late stages in Game 5 to hunker down and secure the win, and that's exactly what the Hurricanes need out of him tonight.

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