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Raanta proves ready for top role in Hurricanes’ playoff push

RALEIGH, N.C. – Antti Raanta stayed able, even whilst spending maximum of a season backing up probably the most NHL’s best goalies. He’s essential now for the Carolina Hurricanes as they advance within the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Pressed into responsibility with No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen injured, Raanta used to be the defensive anchor for the Hurricanes’ first-round sequence with the Boston Bruins. He used to be robust once more in web for Saturday’s clinching Game 7 victory, some other signal that the Hurricanes’ offseason guess on an overhaul on the place has paid off.

“When Freddy got hurt, it was kind of like, ‘OK, now it’s a chance for me to show what I can do in the big stages,’” Raanta mentioned after the 3-2 win. “Starting from Game 1, I think my game was pretty good.”

Raanta earned 3 of the 4 wins within the sequence – he exited Game 2 early after taking a blow to the pinnacle – whilst permitting 4 aims in the ones video games. He allowed two aims on 70 photographs within the Game 1 and 5 victories (.971 save share) then completed with 27 saves within the clinching win.

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Not dangerous for a 33-year-old veteran who had by no means began a playoff recreation prior to this sequence and had battled accidents lately. Raanta looks as if Carolina’s go-to man in web coming into a second-round sequence opposed to the Pittsburgh-New York Rangers winner.

“When we started this season, Freddy was unbelievable straight away and I was kind of fighting my way back to the game,” Raanta mentioned. “There were some ups and downs early on in the season. I think since the All-Star break, it started to feel like I was also contributing there. I think guys started to trust me also. I was able to show I can also do the job.”

The Hurricanes signed Andersen and Raanta remaining summer time. But an every-night function wasn’t the plan as Andersen took the lead and used to be a number of the league leaders with 35 regular-season wins, a 2.17 goals-against moderate and a .922 save share.

Instead, Raanta were the dependable No. 2 choice, with the duo securing the William M. Jennings Trophy awarded to netminders on a group that let the fewest aims within the league in a minimal 25 video games of labor.

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But his task description modified April 16, when Andersen went down in a loss at Colorado with a lower-body harm. Raanta needed to take over the lead function with rookie Pyotr Kochetkov because the backup choice for a group that used to be headed for the Metropolitan Division name.

Carolina wanted any individual able for the instant. Raanta has been precisely that.

“When one of the best goalies in the league goes down in injury, obviously it’s going to sting a little bit,” Raanta mentioned. “Like we’ve been playing the whole year, the team in front of me is doing a great job. I just try to do my job and help the guys get the win.”

While Carolina’s competitive forecheck can ease the load on him, Raanta has get a hold of key saves when wanted, too.

His largest prevent Saturday got here early with a full-split save to disclaim Taylor Hall close to the left publish on a 2-on-1 probability within the first length of a scoreless recreation. It used to be a second that Bruins trainer Bruce Cassidy got here again to nearly straight away in his postgame information convention.

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“Big timely save by Raanta,” Cassidy mentioned. “If we bury that 2-on-1, things might change in a game like today when it’s hard to score.”

Andersen’s standing stays unclear going ahead. Carolina trainer Rod Brind’Amour has presented few specifics on Andersen’s restoration past announcing he’s running laborious to get again and would wish to follow with the group to be able to go back.

Raanta has proven the Hurricanes that they don’t must power anything else. And he has an appreciation for this second in a difficult yr, specifically after shedding his father within the offseason.

That a lot used to be transparent in Saturday’s postgame information convention, when his daughter Evelyn interrupted to provide her dad a large hug. He helped her get located to take a seat in his lap and percentage the revel in.

“No one at the start would’ve anticipated him being the guy and then step in in the biggest moments and be the guy,” Brind’Amour mentioned. “I’m proud of him and happy for him because he’s gone through so much.”

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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