Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour talks with an official during...

Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind'Amour talks with an official during the first period in Game 5 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Credit: AP/Karl B DeBlaker

RALEIGH, N.C. — The shift of location in the second-round playoff series between the Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, moving from Madison Square Garden to PNC Arena for Games 3 and 4, didn’t simply represent a change of scenery for the two teams.

With Carolina being the home team for Game 3 Thursday, that meant Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour would have the advantage of having the last line change, which would allow him to get the matchups he wanted, as opposed to the first two games of the series when Rangers coach Peter Laviolette was able to dictate who played against who.

And that change was a significant one, Laviolette admitted.

“It matters,’’ Laviolette said Thursday, after the Rangers’ morning skate. “I'd rather it be the other way. And so we're just going to have to work through that.’’

Two years ago, when the teams played in the 2022 playoffs, Brind’Amour matched his checking line, centered by captain Jordan Staal, against the Rangers’ top line, centered by Mika Zibanejad, in the games in Carolina. That matchup proved effective for the Hurricanes. In the games in New York, then-Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was able to get Zibanejad’s line away from Staal’s line, and Zibanejad’s line was productive in those games.

With Zibanejad off to a great start in the playoffs — he led the Rangers in scoring over the first six postseason games, with 11 points — he was likely to see a lot of Staal in Games 3 and 4.

“I think they have four good lines that can create, and do damage,’’ Zibanejad said when asked about the potential line matchups. “And I think whatever line is out there against whatever line, you just got to make sure that you do your job… Obviously, it's an away game, so we don't get the last change.’’

In the first two games of the series, Carolina’s top line of Jake Guentzel, Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov produced some goals while matched against the Artemi Panarin-Vincent Trocheck-Alexis Lafreniere line, and Laviolette tried to match Zibanejad’s line, with wingers Chris Kreider and Jack Roslovic, against Aho and Co. That seemed to work a little better for the Rangers.

But oftentimes, the more important matchup is getting the right defensemen out against particular lines, and Laviolette said he feels a little bit better about matching up because of a change he made in his defense pairs late in the season, when he split up the Jacob Trouba-K’Andre Miller pair and put Miller with Braden Schneider and Trouba with Erik Gustafsson. Laviolette said the defensive pairs have more balance now, and he feels more comfortable with whichever pair is on against any of the Hurricanes’ lines.

“I really like the balance on the back end,’’ Laviolette said. “And when you're on the road, and you feel like you have that confidence in your [forward] lines, that confidence in your back end. . .  I think [matchups] become a little bit less of a factor.’’

The NHL announced that Game 5 of the series, if necessary, will start at 7 p.m. Monday at Madison Square Garden.

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