Gerard Gallant doesn't agree that Rangers offense is struggling with cohesion

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The Rangers power play was suffocated, their offensive stalwarts like Artemi Panarin neutralized, and the team heads home in a 2-0 series hole having not found the back of the net since the early minutes of the first period in game one.

But head coach Gerard Gallant told Mollie Walker of the New York Post that he doesn’t see a disconnect on the offensive end from his group.

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“I wouldn't say that. I would say it's two teams not giving up either,” Gallant said. “They were first in the league, we were second. There wasn't a whole lot of ice out there for either team. Disappointed we didn't take advantage of our power plays tonight and we haven't said that too often this year. That's the tough part of it. But overall, it's a top team, it's a battle game. They're a good team, they’re the best defensive team in the league.”

Carolina is indeed a perennial Stanley Cup contender that boasted the top shorthanded unit in the league this season, but if the Rangers are to have any hope of making this a series, they will need more contributions from their top forwards and their power play unit, which couldn’t get anything going in Raleigh, coming up empty in all five opportunities, including four in game two.

“I'm seeing a great penalty kill put a lot of pressure on them,” Gallant told reporters after the game two loss, another narrow defeat. “We didn't find the inside man very often in the slot, the bumper guy, they put a lot of pressure. We just didn't adjust to it quick enough. Got to compete a little harder, I think.”

While Gallant is pleased with his team’s effort, he did add that he would like to see some of his shooters be more aggressive in getting pucks to the net, and cause a bit more chaos at the net in front of Antti Raanta.

“There was three of four chances, the first two periods, where I think we should have shot pucks,” Gallant said. “[Alexis Lafreniere] had a chance on the power play. If he makes the pass, it goes through, it’s a goal. But he was right in the slot, and you gotta shoot those pucks. But overall, again, he played a good game. It is what it is.”

So, what emotion prevails? Optimism that the team played the favored Hurricanes competitively in both games so far this series, or the fact that playing two strong games wasn’t enough to get a win in either of them? Even while taking away some good from the pair of defeats at PNC Arena, Gallant knows there was a bit of a missed opportunity to gain some momentum heading back to New York. Instead, the Rangers are in must-win mode.

“It’s tough. We come into this building earlier in the season twice and got dominated, 50 shots I think,” Gallant said. “We come in here and play good defensive hockey, battled, only got one goal. That’s the disappointing part of it, but we played a good hockey team and played good hockey. Just fell short a little bit.”

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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