Hurricanes’ Lorentz makes bad decision against the Rangers, for all the right reasons

·3 min read
John Minchillo/AP

Steven Lorentz showed some fight Tuesday for the Carolina Hurricanes.

It might have come at a bad time. It had a poor outcome — for Lorentz and the Canes. But Lorentz, in a flash, displayed some fight-back that the Canes mostly lacked in a lackluster 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their Stanley Cup playoff series at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers had promised — threatened? — some retribution in Game 4 for what they considered a cheap cross-check by the Canes’ Max Domi on defenseman Ryan Lindgren in the final seconds of New York’s 3-1 win in Game 3. Forward Ryan Reaves said he might “run some people” and mouthed other generalities about potential nastiness.

But this was how it unfolded Tuesday: Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba lined up Domi for a big hit along the boards, leaving his feet and leading with his elbow. While it was a big collision, Domi avoided what could have been as serious injury by slowing at the last second and moving his head back.

In came Lorentz, dropping the gloves for a go at Trouba. Punches were thrown and Trouba continued to take a few swings at Lorentz even as Lorentz was falling down.

“It was early in the game and 0-0 and emotions were high,” Lorentz said. “I think we had only played a couple of shifts up to that point, so we were still kind of buzzing. I clearly wasn’t a big fan of the hit and when I saw ‘Maxi’ go down I thought, ‘You know what, this guy did the same thing for me,’ so I went in there and tried to stick up for a teammate, trying to ignite the guys.

“But unfortunately it ended up costing us.”

Lorentz ended up with 17 minutes in penalties, including two minutes for instigating, with 8:22 left in the first. The Rangers ended up on a power play, and Frank Vatrano scored for a 1-0 lead.

“That’s on me,” Lorentz said. “It’s hard. You’ve got to make a decision, split-second. The game is so fast and I thought I was doing the right thing, but unfortunately I ended up costing our team, so that’s on me.”

Lorentz said when he saw Trouba’s hit, he instantly thought Trouba would be whistled for a penalty. Trouba would be penalized — a five-minute fighting major.

“I kind of rushed in there as my gloves were off and I grabbed him,” Lorentz said. “Again, in my mind, I thought I was doing the right thing because Max is a guy who did the exact same thing for me. I just wanted to provide a spark.

“You can’t do stuff like that, but emotions are high. … I just wanted to show I was engaged and ready to compete and try to provide a spark.”

Brind’Amour did not like the end result — the Rangers on the power play, then scoring, forcing the Canes to play catch up the rest of the game.

But Brind’Amour didn’t like the play of the Canes in the first period, either, as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead.

The Rangers’ Andrew Copp, who had a goal and two assists, called the Trouba hit the “biggest play of the game.”

“We’re not out there trying to catch guys at all, we’re not trying to play stupid or anything like that,” Copp said. “We’re just trying to finish our checks when we can and play physical when we can and make smart decisions. At the end of the day, them taking the two-minute instigator changed the course of the game.

“It’s not head-hunting at all. It was a good hit. Their response warranted a penalty.”

The question now: What will the Canes response be in Game 5?

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