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Improving Hurricanes visit struggling Rangers

by Dave Lozo /

HURRICANES (16-28-7) at RANGERS (24-22-7)

Last 10 --
Carolina 5-5-0; New York 3-5-2

Season series --
This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. The Rangers captured the first two meetings in regulation, but Carolina earned a 2-1 OT win in their last matchup on Jan. 2 at Madison Square Garden.

Big story --
The up-and-down Rangers are once again reeling, losers of three straight afters convincing wins against Montreal and TampaBay by a combined 14-4 score. Carolina, meanwhile, is 6-5-0 this month and has won two of three. The 'Canes are coming off a dominating 5-1 home win against Boston on Sunday.

Team Scope:

Hurricanes --
Mired in last place in the overall standings for most of the season, Carolina recently passed Edmonton to emerge from the League's basement. Still, the Hurricanes have just 39 points and are 16 points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

However, they don't think it's time to throw in the towel yet.

"If we can get some wins here and give ourselves a chance to maybe get a little closer to some teams, we could have a good stretch," Hurricanes center Brandon Sutter said.

Rangers --
Consistency has been a problem all season, especially offensively. After a 156-minute scoring drought, Artem Anisimov broke through with two goals against the Penguins on Monday, the second of which put his team ahead 2-1 in the third period.

But two goals in 60 seconds put the Pens ahead for good, leaving the Rangers once again shaking their heads.

"This one was painful," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We battled back, and it was a pretty good game. In the second period we played pretty well and we came out in the third and kept it going. I don't know what to say. ... We have had a bunch of these games this year. It could be a different story if we manage to win these games. We have a tough time winning games like this but we definitely played a lot better than the last two games."

Who's hot --
Hurricanes shootout specialist Jussi Jokinen has been pretty special outside of the skills competition of late. He has 4 goals and 8 assists in his last eight games.

When you've got nearly three games' worth of time without a goal and one player scores all your goals in the first game in which you score, you are the hot player by default. Anisimov's two goals Monday not only ended the Rangers' drought, but they were his first goals since Dec. 19.

Injury report --
Carolina will be without defenseman Joe Corvo (leg), wingers Scott Walker (upper body), Erik Cole (upper body) and Tuomo Ruutu (upper body), and goaltender Manny Legace (eye). … As has been the case for most of the season, the Rangers are healthy.

Stat pack --
Carolina's Eric Staal and Ray Whitney have points in five straight games. ... Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward has made 19 straight starts. ... The Hurricanes have posted a record of 5-16-4 (14 pts.) in 25 road games, the worst mark in the League. ... Lundqvist is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals against average and a .943 save percentage in three appearances vs. Carolina this season. ... The Rangers lead the NHL with 1,496 hits

Puck drop --
"We played much better as far as away from the puck and in our end zone. We have to find a way to win a game when we are up 2-1." -- Rangers coach John Tortorella, after the team's 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday.

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