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by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes allowed three goals in the second period for the second straight game en route to falling 5-2 to the New York Rangers Monday night at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

Rangers forward Theoren Fleury scored two goals, including the game-winner, and earned an assist to take his season points total to 65, second best in the National Hockey League.

The Hurricanes led 1-0 at the end of the first period on a Marek Malik power play goal at the 14:42 mark. Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh passed the puck to Malik, who lined up a shot from the point. Forwards Shane Willis and Martin Gelinas provided traffic in front of New York goaltender Mike Richter as Malik’s shot sailed into the net. The goal was Malik’s second of the season.

During the second period, the Rangers took advantage of the power play on two occasions. At 9:55, Fleury put a shot on net from the top of the slot that Radek Dvorak re-directed past Carolina goaltender Arturs Irbe one second after an interference penalty to Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley expired.

Fleury took advantage of the power play again at the 19:20 mark, but this time Carolina had the man-advantage. Fleury scored his sixth short-handed goal of the season which leads the NHL.

“I think they caught us back on our heels,” said Carolina coach Paul Maurice. “We weren’t as quick as we were in the first. We weren’t as quick on the puck and on the body. It was almost a carbon copy of the last game (a 6-3 loss to Los Angeles) – the short-handed goal and turning the puck over right at the blue line. Them scoring the short-handed goal was really frustrating. We played like we wanted to in the first and the third. We got in penalty trouble in the second. Three in a row and that had us back on our heels. That gave them the jump to get it going.”

At 13:35 of the third period, the Hurricanes cut into the Rangers’ 3-1 lead when Ozolinsh fired a slapshot from the point. Gelinas again created traffic in front of the net and re-directed Ozolinsh’s shot onto the stick of Rod Brind’Amour, who beat Richter high to the stick side with his ninth goal.

“It was just a hard-work goal,” said Brind’Amour. “It’s the kind of goal we give to Marty to score in front of the net. He was the reason we got the first goal, standing in front and screening the goalie. I just tapped in a rebound.”

The Rangers struck back at 17:42 when forward Petr Nedved received a Radak Dvorak pass on Irbe’s glove side. Nedved slid the puck past Irbe to extend the New York lead to two with 2:18 to play. Jan Hlavac scored an empty net goal as the Hurricanes tried to utilize six attackers in the game’s closing minute.

“We had a great chance to tie the game and Richter made a save and they came down and scored,” said Brind’Amour. “It’s frustrating in that way because I felt we were coming back and then we seemed to get another couple of penalties right at the wrong times. All in all, we’ve got to be better if we expect to win.”

The win was the Rangers first on the road since Nov. 22, when they defeated the New York Islanders 4-3 at Nassau Coliseum.

“Up there in New York, we read the stats,” said Rangers coach Ron Low. “They’ve been playing unbelievable hockey and they’ve done a lot of good things. We were terrified coming in here. It was a huge game for us and something we had to win. We hadn’t won on the road for God knows how long and it’s something we had to do if we were going to get back in this race at all. We’re half way done with the job. We got a big game coming up in New York.”

The Hurricanes will travel to New York on Wednesday for the second game of the home-and-home series with the Rangers.

Despite earning two assists, Ozolinsh finished the game with a minus-3 plus/minus ranking and was on the ice for four of New York’s five goals. The Hurricanes have lost both games since Ozolinsh returned from a knee injury that kept him out of Carolina’s lineup for 10 games.

“He got strong there in the third,” said Maurice. “That’s when he is valuable – when you are down or something he can open up and jump into the play. He didn’t get enough minutes to be the difference in the game. He’s slowly working back in it. He was a little stronger tonight than he was last game.”

“We get to redeem ourselves, hopefully, right away,” said Brind’Amour. “We play the same team. We know the importance of these games. We have to have a better effort.”

Hurricanes captain Ron Francis said the team needs to look ahead to Wednesday’s game and put the two straight losses behind them.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves because we’ve lost two in a row,” said Francis. “We’ve got to go right back at it and get our game back to where it needs to be for Wednesday night – just put it behind us. We can’t worry about this but just focus on the task ahead.”

NOTES: Carolina’s Jeff O’Neill has 11 power play goals (4th place in NHL) and Rangers’ forward Mark Messier has 10 power play goals (tied for fifth place in NHL) – Neither player scored tonight… Ozolinsh earned his first assist since the Hurricanes’ 2-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 30 and his first point since Carolina defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3 on Dec. 6 in Atlanta.

1st Period Scoring: 1, Carolina, Malik 2 (power play) (Ozolinsh,Brindamour), 14:42.
 Penalties: Langdon, Car (elbowing), 4:02; B Smyth, Nyr(cross checking), 5:02; Kloucek, Nyr (slashing), 13:33.
2nd Period Scoring: 2, NY Rangers, Dvorak 13 (Fleury, Lefebvre),9:55.
3, NY Rangers, Fleury 27 (York, Lefebvre), 13:30.
4, NY Rangers,Fleury 28 (shorthanded) (unassisted), 19:20.
 Penalties: G Wesley, Car(cross checking), 4:29; G Wesley, Car (interference), 7:54; Malik, Car(hooking), 14:22; Nedved, Nyr (hooking), 18:14.
3rd Period Scoring: 5, Carolina, Brindamour 9 (Gelinas, Ozolinsh),13:35.
6, NY Rangers, Nedved 13 (Hlavac, Dvorak), 17:42.
7, NY Rangers,Hlavac 20 (empty net) (Dvorak, Nedved), 19:16.
 Penalties: Vasicek, Car(hooking), 1:54; Kloucek, Nyr (interference), 5:40; Carolina bench, servedby Willis (too many men on the ice), 7:46; Willis, Car (holding), 13:56; BSmyth, Nyr (interference), 15:00.
NY RANGERS 0 3 2 5
CAROLINA 1 0 1 2Final
NY RANGERS 1181231
CAROLINA 1141631
Power-play Conversions: Nyr - 0 of 7, Car - 1 of 5.
Goalies: NYRangers, Richter (31 shots, 29 saves; record: 16-17-2). Carolina, Irbe(30, 26; record: 19-16-6).
Referee: Jackson, Peel.
Linesmen:Amell, Morin.
NY Rangers Carolina
G A +/- Shots G A +/- Shots
B Smyth 0 0 +1 1 Battaglia 0 0 -1 0
Dvorak 1 2 +3 6 Brindamour 1 1 -2 2
Fleury 2 1 +3 3 Dimaio 0 0 -1 1
Graves 0 0 -1 2 Francis 0 0 -1 0
Grosek 0 0 -1 1 G Wesley 0 0 -2 1
Gusarov 0 0 even 0 Gelinas 0 1 even 2
Hlavac 1 1 +3 5 J Daniels 0 0 even 1
Johnsson 0 0 even 0 Kapanen 0 0 -2 1
Kloucek 0 0 +1 1 Karpa 0 0 even 1
Lacroix 0 0 even 0 Langdon 0 0 even 0
Leetch 0 0 +2 2 Malik 1 0 -1 6
Lefebvre 0 2 +2 1 Oneill 0 0 -1 2
M Malhotra 0 0 even 0 Ozolinsh 0 2 -3 3
Mccarthy 0 0 even 1 T Westlund 0 0 -1 0
Messier 0 0 even 0 Tanabe 0 0 -1 5
Nedved 1 1 +3 6 Vasicek 0 0 -1 2
Pilon 0 0 +2 0 Wallin 0 0 -2 1
York 0 1 +1 2 Willis 0 0 -2 3
Purinton Injured Arm Hatcher Knee Injury
Toms Healthy Halko Healthy
Adams Healthy
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