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Hurricanes 3, Rangers 0 @NHLdotcom

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -The best performances of Cam Ward's career came a few years ago in the playoffs. Maybe that's why the Carolina goalie is treating the late season like it's the postseason.

The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner stopped 28 shots in his fifth shutout of the season, helping the Hurricanes match a season high with their fourth straight win, 3-0 over the New York Rangers on Monday night.

Ward's 10th career shutout came at the perfect time for Carolina, which jumped from ninth in the Eastern Conference into a tie for fifth with Montreal with 77 points in the crowded playoff chase.

The Hurricanes have won eight of 10 while taking yet another step toward a return to the postseason. They haven't been there since raising the Stanley Cup in 2006 with Ward in goal.

"It was a playoff game, in our eyes," Ward said. "Look at the standings. Everybody knows what's at stake."

Joe Corvo and Rod Brind'Amour scored, and Tuomo Ruutu added an empty-netter for the Hurricanes, who equaled a four-game winning streak of late December and early January.

The Rangers had their three-game winning streak snapped and dropped out of playoff position for the first time this season. New York, ninth in the East, is 3-2-1 since coach John Tortorella replaced the fired Tom Renney.

"We're just not going to win if we don't score goals," Tortorella said. "We were still there going into the third period, but I just don't think we were consistent with our forecheck. We didn't have the puck enough."

Steve Valiquette made 33 saves in his first appearance since Feb. 15. The Rangers were denied their first four-game winning streak since October, and were shut out for the first time since a 2-0 defeat at Ottawa on Jan. 10.

"You get no run support and it's a loss for us," Tortorella said.

New York slowed a Carolina offense that scored 15 goals in two games since reacquiring Erik Cole at the trade deadline. The Hurricanes' 9-3 rout of last-place Tampa Bay in their last game was their biggest outburst since the franchise moved from Hartford in 1997.

This one was more fulfilling, coach Paul Maurice said, because it came against another playoff contender and the outcome was in doubt for much longer.

"It's the difference between potato chips and steak," Maurice said.

At Ottawa, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley scored second-period goals and Brian Elliott made 25 saves in his third straight start for the Senators, who have won all of those games.

Ian White scored for Toronto, which lost in regulation for the second straight game after earning at least a point in its eight previous games (6-0-2).

Maple Leafs veteran Curtis Joseph became the sixth goalie in league history to allow 2,500 goals on Alfredsson's score, an unassisted effort in the second period that tied it at 1.

He joined John Vanbiesbrouck, Tony Esposito, Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy and Gilles Meloche. Fuhr and Meloche each allowed an NHL-record 2,756 goals.

At Los Angeles, Jarret Stoll scored twice during power plays, Teddy Purcell had two assists and the Kings ended Vancouver's four-game winning streak to hand the Canucks just their third loss in 15 games.

Defenseman Denis Gauthier also scored and Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for Los Angeles, which has scored at least one power-play goal in 19 of its last 22 games, and two or more in seven of those contests.

Roberto Luongo allowed more than two goals for the first time in his last eight starts, stopping 19 shots. He had won 12 of his previous 13 after losing his first five games following his return from a groin injury that sidelined him for 24 games.

Alex Burrows and Taylor Pyatt scored for Vancouver.

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