NEW YORK, N.Y. - Rangers rookie J.T. Miller fumbled his way to a goal in the third round of a shootout and New York snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.
The 20-year-old Miller skated in slowly on Dan Ellis and briefly lost the puck before calmly gathering it and scoring from a tough angle near the goal line. Rick Nash scored in the opening round of the tiebreaker and Henrik Lundqvist stopped both Carolina tries.
The Rangers (14-12-2) moved into ninth place in the Eastern Conference — two points behind Carolina (15-11-2), which lost its third straight (0-2-1). It was the Hurricanes' first shootout of the season.
Carolina's Eric Staal scored in the first period, and Derek Stepan tied it in the second for the Rangers. The rest of the game belonged to the goalies: Lundqvist, who made 29 saves, and Carolina counterpart Ellis, who stopped 35 shots in his third start since No. 1 goalie Cam Ward was injured March 3.
New York had a couple of close calls in the scoreless third period, including a chance in front by slumping forward Marian Gaborik. The Rangers also had the only power play in the third, the first time in six games they had more than two advantages in a game, but couldn't do anything with it.
Carolina recorded 27 shots through regulation, but only 13 came after the first period.
Injured Rangers defenceman Marc Staal watched from a suite high above the ice, keeping a close eye on his brothers Eric and Jordan, who are star forwards with the Hurricanes. Marc Staal missed his seventh game since he was struck in the right eye by a puck against Philadelphia on March 5.
The Rangers came out much stronger in the second and the effort showed up in shots and, most importantly, on the scoreboard.
Stepan netted the elusive goal for the Rangers when he scored his eighth of the season at 11:06. Stepan spun around in front of Ellis and whipped a shot in after captain Ryan Callahan created the chance by charging the net and bumping into Ellis with defenceman Joni Pitkanen leaning on his back.
The Rangers, beaten 3-0 Saturday in Pittsburgh, scored for the first time in 120 minutes, 55 seconds — dating back two games to Callahan's second-period goal in a loss at Winnipeg on Thursday.
New York couldn't forge the lead in the second, but the Rangers had a 15-4 edge in the period and 20-18 overall through 40 minutes.
The Hurricanes had the better of the play in the first and turned that into the lead with 50.4 seconds left. Eric Staal, who less than a minute earlier came out of the penalty box, took a cross-zone pass in the right circle from Pitkanen and fired a quick one-timer that beat Lundqvist for his 14th goal of the season.
Staal had taken a goalie interference penalty when he was shoved into Lundqvist at 16:33, wiping out the final 47 seconds of a power play Carolina received when New York defenceman Steve Eminger was called for interference.
The Hurricanes didn't generate any shots on their first advantage, called just 24 seconds in, when Gaborik was whistled for tripping Staal in the offensive zone, but Carolina led 14-6 in first-period shots.
NOTES: Eric Staal has two goals and four assists during a five-game point streak. He has six goals and 10 assists in 12 games — earning at least one point in 10. ... Alexander Semin, who had the second assist on Staal's goal, also has a five-game point streak. ... Stepan has a point in eight of 10 games, notching five goals and five assists in the spurt. ... Pitkanen played in consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 11-12 after missing time with an injury. ... The three Staal brothers and their parents had dinner together on Sunday. Marc Staal is waiting for facial fractures to heal and for his vision to fully return. His brothers said he is hopeful of returning this season.
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