Hurricanes center Jake Guentzel and Rangers center Mika Zibanejad fight for the...

Hurricanes center Jake Guentzel and Rangers center Mika Zibanejad fight for the puck during the third period in Game 1 of an NHL Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Julia Nikhinson

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin was there when he had to be in Game 1 of the Rangers’ second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, making 22 saves in the Blueshirts’ 4-3 victory at Madison Square Garden.

His teammates prevented a lot more shots from ever reaching him, though. The Rangers blocked a whopping 28 shots in Game 1, which was one of the reasons the Hurricanes, whose very team identity is launching as many shots as possible every game, were held to such a relatively low total.

“We put a lot of pucks there, and they did a good job getting in front of some of them,’’ Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “And we missed out on some. But yeah, of course you want to get more quality chances.’’

Carolina took an average of 33.3 shots on goal per game during the regular season, third-most in the league. In the playoffs, the Hurricanes are averaging 32.3 per game, which is second-most. But the Rangers, who were in the middle of the pack in blocked shots during the regular season (15.7 per game), have stepped up their shot-blocking in the playoffs. In five games, they’ve blocked 112 shots, an average of 22.4 per game.

“In the playoffs, everybody knows you’ve got to sacrifice to win games, and blocking shots is a big part of that,’’ Vincent Trocheck, who had two blocks in Game 1, said Monday.

“I think you can look at a ton of small areas that I guess might not show up on the scoresheet . . . [Alexis Lafreniere] sliding, blocking shots, guys buying into doing the dirty stuff,’’ said Jacob Trouba, who had a game-high six blocks. “Around the room, everyone’s doing those little things . . . and that’s what makes you win this time of year.’’

Trouba is tied with Chris Tanev of Dallas and Brayden McNabb of Vegas for the postseason lead in blocked shots with 27 (Tanev and McNabb have played in seven games and Trouba has played in five). In the regular season, Trouba was 12th in the league with 183 blocks despite playing only 69 games because of a lower-body injury.

Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said there hasn’t been any special emphasis on trying to block shots against the Hurricanes. He theorized that Carolina’s shoot-as-often-as-possible mentality might have been part of the reason for all the blocked shots.

“It’s probably just in the natural sort of thing when you play them,’’ Laviolette said. “They just fire a lot of pucks from the exterior, and we’re going to have to get in front of them. A lot of them are just kind of hoisted in there and wristed in there. We’ve just got to, the ones that we can knock down, we’ll knock down.’’

Of course, it takes a lot of courage to step in front of an opponent who’s about to fire a hard rubber puck toward the net at speeds of 90 to 100-plus miles per hour.

“Personally, I’m just trying to get in the way of it, if I can,’’ Trocheck said. “And hope it doesn’t hit somewhere that doesn’t have padding.’’

Although, he pointed out, sometimes it hurts even when it does hit your padding.

And as if personal safety isn’t enough to worry about, there’s the matter of deciding in a split-second whether it’s worth it to try to block the shot when doing so comes with the risk of screening the goaltender, or worse, deflecting the puck past him.

“Yeah, I think that’s a read,’’ defenseman K’Andre Miller said.

Miller said the defensemen and goaltenders are constantly talking during practice about when and when not to block shots.

“We’ve talked a number of times about, I guess what [the goalie’s] read is and what he can see,’’ Miller said. “Obviously, we try to get any sticks and any bodies out of the way and [leave] a clear lane to the net . . . If you are in the lane, I think you have a little bit more of an option to block the shot.’’

n  Blue lines

The start time for Game 4 of the series was set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina . . . For the first time since he suffered a knee or lower-leg injury in February, forward Blake Wheeler rejoined the Rangers for practice, wearing a red no-contact jersey.

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