By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After just three games, the New York Rangers' bubble has burst at the hand of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Up 2-0 entering Tuesday's primetime Game 3, not even a move from Petr Mrazek to backup James Reimer could break Carolina's stride, as Sebastian Aho's two goals and an assist powered the 'Canes to a 4-1 final over the Blueshirts.
In a one-goal hole after Chris Kreider put the Rangers on the board just 12 seconds into the second period, the Hurricanes' Teuvo Teravainen knotted things up at 1-1 just 3:06 later, and a Warren Foegele strike five minutes into the third period pushed Carolina out front before Aho's pair of tallies put the Rangers to bed.
Considered the Hurricanes' one-two up front, the story of this series really was the contributions of Aho and Andrei Svechnikov. Both players managed at least one point in all three games for the 'Canes, and while they were led by Aho's team-best eight points, it was Svechnikov's Game 2 hat trick that put New York on death's door entering Tuesday's contest.
Conversely, almost nothing went right for the Rangers in this three-game series loss. Superstars Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad combined for just two goals on 19 shots and four points in total, Henrik Lundqvist failed to give the Rangers enough juice in place of Igor Shesterkin in Games 1 and 2 after Shesterkin was deemed "unfit to play," and their power play went just 1-for-14.
New York's loss makes them the first team eliminated from postseason contention in either NHL bubble city.
Rod Brind'Amour and the Hurricanes, meanwhile, will advance to the official 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and would enter the round of 16 as the top seed among the play-in participants should the Canadiens pull off the upset and win their play-in round series against the Penguins, which is currently tied 1-1.
And with the Bruins currently in fourth in the round-robin standings for top-four seeding in the Eastern Conference, that is certainly worth watching should the Bruins fail to take care of business in their next two round-robin contests. (Rooting for either the Penguins or Canadiens is pretty disgusting, I know.)
The New York Islanders, currently up 2-0 in their best-of-five play-in series against the Florida Panthers, could become the second East team to punch their ticket to the round of 16 on Wednesday.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.