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Hurricanes 2, Rangers 1 @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK (AP) - Martin Gerber spoiled Henrik Lundqvist's first start for the New York Rangers since leading Sweden to the Olympic gold medal.

Gerber made 16 of his 37 saves in the third period to help the NHL-leading Carolina Hurricanes beat the Rangers 2-1 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory.

"It was wild in the third period. They have so much firepower up front," Gerber said. "We played smart and I was able to see the shots. ... We played simple hockey. I think we played a very good road game."

Lundqvist, in goal for New York for the first time since beating Toronto on Feb. 10 in the Rangers' last home game before the Olympic break, made 17 saves - all in the first two periods. New York outshot Carolina 17-0 in the third.

"It's frustrating getting all those scoring chances and not scoring," Lundqvist said. "I think they really rely on their goaltender and their defense to clear the puck. ... His teammates have a lot of confidence in him. They play really smart."

The Rangers became the second team to hold an opponent without a shot in a period this season. Vancouver blanked Colorado in the third period on Oct. 27.

New York has lost two straight following a seven-game winning streak.

"We're just not poised enough with the puck," center Steve Rucchin said. "We're not managing the puck well and we're not taking advantage of what they've giving us. Give credit to Carolina. There's a reason they're in first place."

Justin Williams and Kevyn Adams scored for Carolina, playing the second game of a five-game trip. The Hurricanes, three points ahead of Detroit and Ottawa in the overall standings, have won 11 of their last 14 games and 20 of 24.

"We don't really look at the points," Gerber said. "If we keep playing the way we have, that'll take care of itself."

Gerber improved to 30-9-2, allowing only Rucchin's goal at 3:28 of the third period. The Swiss Olympian had little chance on the goal, with Rucchin stopping Thomas Pock's shot from the blue line with his skates and flipping in a short shot.

"He's a great goalie," Rucchin said. "I played with him in Anaheim and I have nothing but good things to say about him. By no means does it surprise me."

Carolina took a 2-0 lead at 8:31 of the second period on Williams' 20th goal of the season. Rod Brind'Amour controlled the puck behind the goal, skated into the corner and fired a centering pass to the unchecked Williams on the far edge of the crease.

"It was a good play by them," Lundqvist said. "I was also a little bit surprised. I didn't see him."

Adams opened the scoring with 1:09 left in the first period, knocking a loose puck past Lundqvist from the edge of the crease.

"I had really bad luck there," Lundqvist said.

The Rangers controlled the play for most of the first period, but squandered an early 1:17 two-man advantage. Despite the high shots total, they failed to generate many quality scoring chances and Carolina's skaters were quick to clear the puck.

"They had a lot of chances, but not many second chances," Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican said. "Martin just seems to be in the right spots and he makes the big saves with the game on the line. I can't tell you how much he means to this team."

The Atlantic Division-leading Rangers are fourth in the Eastern Conference, 10 points behind the Hurricanes.

"We have to take a step back a little bit because we thought we were a lot better than we really are," New York star Jaromir Jagr said. "The past two games have shown us that we're not there yet. It's OK as long as you learn from it."

Notes: Carolina left wing Erik Cole will miss at least the rest of the regular season because of a fractured vertebra in his neck. Cole, injured Saturday night when he was driven headfirst into the boards by Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik. Cole has 30 goals and 30 assists in 60 games this season. On Monday, the NHL suspended Orpik for three games. ... Hurricanes center Eric Staal was honored Monday as the NHL offensive player of the week. He had three goals and four assists in three games last week. The Rangers drafted Staal's brother, Marc, 12th overall last summer. The junior defenseman has 11 goals and 37 assists in 52 games this season for Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey League. ... Rangers defenseman Marek Malik missed the game because of a strained right shoulder.

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