Although the Carolina Hurricanes stuck to their game plan, pilot Gerard Gallant attributed Thursday’s loss to the New York Rangers to poor performance from his squad.

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“We weren’t fast enough, not strong enough,” he told the National Hockey League [NHL] website. We weren’t competitive enough tonight [Thursday].

Rangers lost 3-1 at the PNC Arena and are now trailing 3-2 in this conference semi-final.

“We beat them back to back at home and we expected them to work hard,” continued Gallant. They played very well, quickly. We weren’t up to it.”

Hermetic style

The “Canes” did everything to stifle the New York attack on Thursday, limiting their rivals to 17 small throws. The “Big Apple” team has taken so few shots only once this season.

To do this, Rod Brind’Amour’s troupe adopted an airtight style of play in the neutral zone, frustrating the Blueshirts repeatedly out of the zone.

“Whenever their forecheck was active, we were unable to get through the middle zone,” forward Chris Kreider said. And when you’re not able to get out there with the puck and put pressure on them, that’s going to give them more opportunities to set up their own forecheck.”

The Rangers will be on familiar ground Saturday at Madison Square Garden when they try to extend their season in front of their fans. During their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, they rallied from a 3-1 deficit to outscore rivals Pennsylvania.

“You have to be ready for the next game, concluded Gallant. We’re up against the wall again and we’ve played pretty well in this type of situation, so we’ll see where it takes us.”