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Preview: Hurricanes at Rangers

Surging Canes visit slipping Blueshirts

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

NEW YORK - It's an Empire State of Mind for the Carolina Hurricanes, who will face off with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

The Canes are coming off a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators at home on Sunday, and the team is hot to begin the new year, having won seven of its last eight games.

Just Keep Winning

The Hurricanes are hot, having won seven of their last eight games, a stretch that continued with a 6-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday. In that game, All-Star Sebastian Aho netted his second career hat trick and crossed the 20-goal threshold for the third season in a row.

Though the results of this recent two-week stretch say otherwise, the Hurricanes haven't changed much from a month ago when the results weren't going their way.

"Same players, same system," Aho said. "Maybe we do the little details now, and we're doing them right all the time."

"Just sticking to the game plan. We haven't changed the way we play," Micheal Ferland said. "We're still shooting pucks. Roddy told us to change nothing and keep playing the way we've been playing. We're finally getting bounces."

Video: Rod Brind'Amour: "The leadership is the key"

"There was a time that we were playing really good hockey, but nothing was going our way," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I give the guys credit, and our leadership group, they're the ones that are continually pushing the message. They're leading by example."

Ending the Drought at MSG

For whatever reason, Madison Square Garden has been a house of horrors for the Hurricanes in their last 15 visits.

The Canes last win at The World's Most Famous Arena came on Oct. 29, 2010. Since then, the team has posted a 0-12-3 record and has been outscored 54-20.

PROJECTED LINEUP

It's not that this stat has any bearing on the outcome of this game - not one player who dressed for the Hurricanes in that game is even still on the roster - but it is an odd drought worth noting and maybe a head-scratching streak that can finally end.

"I know what the record is. The strange thing is, over the last few years we've actually played really well in there. Just, for whatever reason, couldn't come out with a win. Every year and every game, to me, is new. There's no carryover," Brind'Amour said. "It's irrelevant."

The Last Meeting

These two Metropolitan Division opponents last met in the Canes' third game of the regular season, on Sunday, Oct. 7 in what was maybe the wildest game of the first 45. The Canes and Rangers traded pairs of goals in the first (2-2) and second (4-4) before the Canes cracked the game wide open in the third period. Andrei Svechnikov's first career goal broke a 5-5 tie about midway through the third period, en route to an 8-5 victory for the Hurricanes.

The Opposition

The Rangers have won just one of their first seven games to begin the new year, and at 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, they're sliding in the opposite direction of the surging Hurricanes. Mika Zibanejad leads the team in scoring with 37 points (12g, 25a) in 45 games.


ADVANCE AUTO PARTS KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Don't Change

Even when results weren't there, the Hurricanes didn't change their game plan. They stuck to what they knew would work, and now it's paying dividends. Stick to that program.

2. Be Physical

Micheal Ferland's tussle with Austin Watson set the tone on Sunday. It's not that the Hurricanes need a fight every night to get dragged into the battle, but playing physical from the drop of the puck will help the visitors get to their game against a desperate home club.

3. Win the Race

In each of the Hurricanes' last seven wins, they've scored three or more goals. If they get to that mark again tonight, there's a good chance they can add another to the W column.


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