NEW YORK -- Mika Zibanejad scored in his first game in a month, Henrik Lundqvist made 41 saves, and the New York Rangers won their third straight, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Zibanejad last played Oct. 27, having missed 13 games with an upper-body injury.
"Our whole lineup looks different when you have him in it," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "He gives us swagger, but he also gives us a lot of depth. It's amazing what one center can do to your whole lineup. The lineup looks a lot longer and a lot deeper."
[WATCH: All Hurricanes vs. Rangers highlights]
Adam Fox had a goal and an assist, Brendan Smith scored, and Artemi Panarin had two assists for the Rangers (12-9-2). Panarin had his third straight multipoint game and ninth in his past 11.
"It's a fun feeling when you win in different ways," said Lundqvist, who played in his 1,000th NHL game, regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs combined. "I thought the other night (a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild on Monday) was more the skill that helped us. Tonight, I thought it was more the will."
Video: CAR@NYR: Lundqvist robs Necas with his stick
Ryan Dzingel and Warren Foegele scored, and Petr Mrazek made 22 saves for the Hurricanes (15-9-1), who trailed 3-0 after the first period.
"You've got to play for 60 minutes and we weren't ready at the start," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "We were a litlte sluggish and bing, bing, bing. Now you've got to dig your way out of a hole. We weren't able to do that. That's the most disappointing part is to come out like that. We dug in after that, but it's too late."
Zibanejad gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 2:54 of the first, scoring a power-play goal on a one-timer from near the goal line to the left of Mrazek off a diagonal pass from Fox.
"All I was worried about coming back was making sure the team was still winning," Zibanejad said. "You want to come in and just help. I'm supposed to help offensively, and obviously [it's] a lot nicer to get that first goal early to not think about that, just kind of get playing again."
Smith scored 1:18 later on a one-timer from the point that deflected off Carolina forward Eetu Luostarinen's stick to make it 2-0 at 4:12.
Fox scored on a deflection of Panarin's one-timer to make it 3-0 with 1:40 remaining in the period.
Video: CAR@NYR: Fox tips Panarin's shot home from the slot
"You can't start like that in the NHL," Dzingel said. "That's what it came down to. It's tough to climb out of a 3-0 hole."
The Hurricanes tried, cutting it to 3-2 in the second period.
Dzingel scored a power-play goal at 14:29 on a deflection of Dougie Hamilton's point shot to make it 3-1. The power play resulted from New York being called for too many men on the ice.
Foegele crashed the net and put in the rebound of his own shot 1:29 after Dzingel's goal to cut it to 3-2 at 15:58.
"We were just trying to build in that second period to give us a chance," Foegele said, "but if we come out hard in the first, it could be a different result."
Video: CAR@NYR: Foegele jams loose puck home from the crease
Lundqvist prevented Carolina from tying the game 22 seconds after Foegele scored, when the goalie reached back with his stick to cover an open net and stop Martin Necas' shot at 16:20.
"If he puts it on the ice, it's a tough save," Lundqvist said. "It's actually easier when he lifts it a little bit. I needed that. They got two quick ones. You want to close out the period with the lead. It's a totally different feeling going into the third with a lead."
Lundqvist made 17 saves in the third, including two during a successful penalty kill in the last 3:10.
"The too many men on the ice penalty changed the whole momentum of the game, and give them a lot of credit, they really threw everything they had at us," Quinn said. "We just found a way to survive."
They said it
"It's a lesson in preparation. We harp on it so much that maybe for young guys it's in one ear and out the other at a certain point because we all talk about the start. But it's another lesson. … You don't want to have too many because the year will go by and you'll be wondering what happened." -- Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour on Carolina falling behind
"I know how much better [Zibanejad] makes this team. It's just a great sign for us to have one of our best players back." -- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
Need to know
Andrei Svechnikov had an assist on Dzingel's goal to extend his point streak to nine games (five goals, eight assists). … The Rangers are 5-0-1 in their past six home games.
Hurricanes: Host the Nashville Predators on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-TN, NHL.TV)
Rangers: At the Boston Bruins on Friday (1 p.m. ET; NBC)
Video: Fox, Panarin lead Rangers past Hurricanes, 3-2