NEW YORK -- It looked like things were going well for the New York Rangers through 40 minutes. 

Looks can be deceiving.

"I don't think we were sharp," Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. "You mentioned the third [period]. I thought it went deeper than that."

Igor Shesterkin was stopping everything the Carolina Hurricanes threw on net in the first two periods; 18 shots, 18 saves. Jacob Trouba's short-handed goal at 6:23 of the second period was holding up. The penalty kill was outstanding, again. They were blocking shots (19) and winning face-offs (27 of 35). The 18,006 in the building, Wayne Gretzky being one of them, were buzzing. 

But the Rangers also couldn't generate much sustained offense at 5-on-5 or on the power play. Connecting passes through the neutral zone was a chore. The Hurricanes had some odd man rushes, a breakaway and other chances right in front of the net. 

It all finally caught up to the Rangers in the first 10 minutes of the third period. They were out of their depth and things snowballed. They gave up three goals in the first 9:56, four total, and lost Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round 4-1 at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

"It wasn't a reflection of who we were for the majority of the year," Laviolette said. "Tonight was not it for us."

New York still leads the best-of-7 series 3-2, but now there's legitimate concern going into Game 6 at PNC Arena on Thursday.

The Hurricanes, who only days ago were in a 3-0 hole, have life, hope, and they know all they need to do is win a home game Thursday to put the Rangers on the brink of elimination too.

"I don't think we thought this would be a cakewalk," Trouba said. "We lost two, face a little adversity. We'll see what we're made of going down to Carolina for Game 6."

They should be made of more than what they showed in the third period, because regardless of the warning signs in the first two periods, the Rangers still had a 1-0 lead and all they needed was to play even with the Hurricanes to win the series. 

"They played well in the third and we just didn't give it enough," forward Vincent Trocheck said. "They wanted it more."

New York started on the penalty kill, having 1:51 of Will Cuylle's tripping penalty carry over from the second period. 

Killing that off should have created some momentum. It didn't.

The Hurricanes kept the pressure on, and the Rangers scrambled. 

"Just not making enough plays exiting the zone, through the neutral zone, just kind of whacking it around," Trouba said. "Coach said that in between periods, kind of calm it down a bit and make some plays."

Instead of doing that, Chris Kreider chipped the puck out of the defensive zone to no one in particular in the neutral zone. Dmitry Orlov got to it, waited for Jordan Staal to come onto the ice, and found him in the middle as the Rangers were also changing. 

Staal had it too easy getting around Braden Schneider on his way deking to his backhand and tucking the puck in between Shesterkin's left skate and the right post to give make it 1-1 at 3:33.

"The details weren't necessarily there for us and they were for them," Kreider said.

Just over three minutes later, the Hurricanes got loose on the rush, Jesperi Kotkaniemi dropped a pass to Brady Skjei, and the game-winning goal-scorer in Game 4 sent a one-timer to the net from the left point. 

Shesterkin made the save, but the rebound came off him and into the right face-off circle. The Hurricanes overskated, whiffed or couldn't get to some of the same type of rebounds in the first two periods. 

This time they did, because Evgeny Kuznetsov beat Artemi Panarin to the puck and stuffed it into the net to make it 2-1 at 6:39. As Kuznetsov was doing his infamous bird goal celebration, Panarin was smashing his stick on the glass at the end boards.

"When they score kind of quick, back-to-back, that's tough, but you've got to put a stop to it," Trouba said. "We didn't do that." 

Again, just over three minutes later, Trouba, getting pressure from Jack Drury behind the goal line, tried to move the puck behind the net to the other side. There was nobody in blue there.

Instead, Martin Necas skated onto the puck first, quickly turned and whipped a pass to the slot. The puck hit off Drury and went to Jordan Martinook, who scored from between the circles to make it 3-1 at 9:56.

"It snowballed quick on us," Trouba said. "It is what it is, a bad period. It's different from the regular season when you feel bad all night, tomorrow you wake up and you're upset. You've got to turn the page quick. Yeah, we played a bad period. Now we've got to focus on Game 6 and we get another chance to close out the series."

He's right, but the Rangers won't do it by playing the way they did Monday, and we're not just talking about the third period even though that is when it went off the rails.

"There were a lot of issues tonight," Laviolette said. "We'll go back and look at it and try to correct those issues."

They have two days.

"Clearly we've got to do a lot of things better," Laviolette said.

Related Content