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'Canes storm to seventh consecutive win

by John Kreiser
The Carolina Hurricanes haven't been to the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup three years ago. They're one step closer to changing that.

Chad LaRose and Rod Brind'Amour scored 28 seconds apart late in the third period, and the Hurricanes beat the New York Rangers 4-2 Thursday night for their club-record 10th straight home victory and seventh in a row overall.

The win moved Carolina (93 points) past Philadelphia and Pittsburgh into fourth place in the East. Perhaps more important, the 'Canes are six points clear of ninth-place Florida and playing their best hockey of the season.

"We've got to keep this train rolling," center Eric Staal said.

LaRose broke a 2-2 tie with 7:35 left in regulation when he raced across the front of the crease and tipped Jussi Jokinen's pass high into the net. The sellout crowd was still cheering that one when Brind'Amour's long wrist shot sailed through a tangle of bodies and caught the far corner past Henrik Lundqvist.

"We just tried to wear them down throughout the game and get pucks behind their 'D,' and it worked it our advantage," LaRose said.

The Rangers continue to have troubles in the third period under new coach John Tortorella. They've been outscored 28-11 in the final 20 minutes since the coaching change, and he wasn't happy with his team's play at crunch time.

"I thought for most of the night we worked hard and did a lot of good things," Tortorella said. "But when it comes down to the third period 2-2 those little things have to be done. We didn’t do them, and it cost us the game."

Cam Ward outplayed Lundqvist, stopping 36 shots to improve to 17-6-2 during a stretch in which he's made 25 consecutive starts. Lundqvist made 19 saves.


"It could have gone both ways, but (for) a span of 30 seconds," Lundqvist said. "The third goal was a good play by them and a breakdown by us. Then, the fourth one was a fluky goal. They just threw it on net, and I think it hit our guy and it went in."

Eric Staal scored on a power play 4:12 into the game to put Carolina ahead. Corey Potter tied it at 17:30 with his first NHL goal -- but not before the Rangers came up empty on four first-period power plays.

"You get four power plays in the first period, you hope to come out with at least a goal or two," defenseman Paul Mara said. "We didn't do that tonight, and it may have cost us the game."

LaRose put Carolina back in front at 6:32 of the second, but the Rangers got even again when defenseman Dan Girardi scored a power-play goal at 14:31 -- only the third man-advantage goal for the Rangers in their last 34 chances.

Neither team can let up with the tight race in the East, which figures to go down to the last day of the season.

"We're just trying to get there," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said, "and I'm not sure 93 (points) is going to get you there."

Canadiens 5, Islanders 1 | Video

Montreal brought its power play to Long Island and used it to move into seventh in the East, scoring three times to rout the last-place Islanders.

Saku Koivu and Mathieu Schneider scored power-play goals in the first period and Andrei Markov added another in the second. Alex Tanguay added a second-period goal and defenseman Mike Komisarek, a Long Island native, scored in the third as the Canadiens passed the Rangers for seventh place. They have 90 points, one ahead of New York and three in front of ninth-place Florida.

"It's fun to have your destiny in your own hands," Tanguay said. "We knew that no matter what the Rangers were doing tonight, we knew we had one game in hand on them. And if we just won our games, we were going to move up."

The line of Tanguay, Koivu and Kovalev has 27 points in the five games it has been together and scored 12 of Montreal's past 21 goals. Not coincidentally, the Habs are 4-0-1 in those five games.

"We had success in the first game and kept going," Koivu said. "The whole team is playing a whole lot better right now."

Jaroslav Halak, filling in because Carey Price had the flu, stopped 26 shots, allowing only Jeff Tambellini's second-period goal after his team already led 4-0.

"It's a lot of fun heading into the third with a three-goal lead and being up 4-0 at one point," Tanguay said.

The Nassau Coliseum was already filled with "Go Habs Go" chants before Koivu converted Kovalev's pass at 13:03. The chants got louder when Schneider teed up a slap shot and ripped it past Yann Danis at 18:31.

Tanguay and Markov made it 4-0 by the 3:12 mark of the second with goals 2:01 apart, ending any doubt about the outcome. Montreal is 7-0-2 in its last nine games with the Isles, though the Islanders won twice at the Bell Centre this season.

The Islanders, last in the overall standings with 59 points, played without All-Star defenseman Mark Streit and top goal-scorer Kyle Okposo, both out with groin injuries.

"Some of the penalties we had, we deserved," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said after the Canadiens went 3-for-8 on the power play. "We talk about if you’re going to take a penalty it should save a goal, and I don’t think there was too many that saved goals tonight."

Bruins 2, Senators 1 | Video  | Gallery

The Bruins hit the 50-win mark for the eighth time in their history and the first since 1992-93. But they know that reaching a milestone like this one is just the start of reaching their final objective.

"You can play for one team your whole career and never get 50 wins -- and still have some real good seasons," goalie Tim Thomas said after stopping 31 shots after the Bruins held off Ottawa. "It's a credit to the team, the way it's built and the way the guys play together.

"But if you're running the Boston Marathon and you're leading after 20 miles, you don't stop to say, 'Man, I'm leading.'"

After also reaching 110 points for the first time since 1982-83, Boston's next milepost is first place in the Eastern Conference, something the Bruins can secure by beating the Rangers at home on Saturday afternoon. It's a terrific achievement for a team that finished eighth in the East last season and missed the playoffs entirely in '06-07.

"I don't think anyone thought we would've been in this position this quickly," Boston coach Claude Julien said, "but we'll take it."

Marc Savard's goal 3:02 into the third period broke a 1-1 tie. Daniel Alfredsson put Ottawa ahead 5:23 into the game; Milan Lucic tied it for the Bruins at 2:27 of the second period.

The Bruins killed off a 6-on-4 in the final 1:55 when Mark Recchi was called for high-sticking and the Senators pulled the goalie for an extra man. Ottawa had a flurry of shots down the stretch before an interference penalty evened things up with 2.7 seconds left.

"We were one shot away and it's disappointing but the guys' effort was definitely there," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "They make you pay. They're a very good team. A couple of little turnovers like that and they make you pay."

Though the Bruins technically haven't won anything yet, Savard was ready to celebrate -- a little.

"We had a tough stretch and now we're heading in the right direction again," he said. "I think it'll be more enjoyable tomorrow when we go to the rink for practice; smiles will be on the boys. It's a great accomplishment for us. ... Fifty wins, I wouldn't have predicted it right away and I don't think any of you did either. I think it's a special feat."

Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report

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